What is substance abuse?

Substance abuse is defined as recurrent use that result in a failure to manage work, school, or home roles; or use in hazardous situations such as driving a car; or use resulting in substance- related legal problems or related interpersonal problems.

Symptoms of substance abuse

  • Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than you’re meant to.
  • Wanting to cut down or stop using the substance but not managing to.
  • Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of the substance.
  • Cravings and urges to use the substance.
  • Not managing to do what you should at work, home, or school because of substance use.
  • Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships.
  • Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of substance use.
  • Using substances again and again, even when it puts you in danger.
  • Continuing to use, even when you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused or made worse by the substance.
  • Needing more of the substance to get the effect you want (tolerance).
  • Development of withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the substance.

What is substance dependence?

Substance dependence occurs when the use of the drug is no longer under control and continues despite adverse effects. Substance dependent individuals experience tolerance, with a need for increasing amounts of drug, withdrawal symptoms, increasingly high dose. People who are dependent on drugs may spend a great deal of time obtaining drugs and limit their usual social, occupational, or recreational activities because of the substance use.

  • A maladaptive pattern of substance use causing impairment or distress is manifested by three or more of the following, occurring at any time in the same 12-month period:
  • Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:
  • A need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or desired effect. Markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance.
  • Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:  The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance.
  • Taking the same substance to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms. Taking the substance often in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.  Having a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use.