The definition of substance abuse is a “pattern of harmful use for any mood-altering drug or alcohol.” Substances can include alcohol, but also illicit and natural drugs. You can abuse substances that are legal and not considered drugs at all.
The reason that it is sometimes hard to define it, is because abuse can occur simply from using a substance in a way other than how it is recommended. It can also be because you are using more than prescribed.
You can use substances even if you do not have a substance use disorder, as defined in the DSM-5. This is a list of 11 criteria for addiction. These include:
1. Hazardous use: Using the substance in ways that are dangerous to you and others.
2. Social or interpersonal problems related to use: Substance use has caused relationship problems or conflicts in your life.
3. Neglected major roles to use: You have failed to meet your responsibilities at work, school, or home only because of using drugs or alcohol.
4. Withdrawal: When you stop using the substance, you experience withdrawal symptoms.
5. Tolerance: You must take more of the drug in order to feel the same effects.
6. Used larger amounts/longer: You have started to use larger amounts for longer periods of time than planned.
7. Repeated attempts to control the use or quit: You have tried to cut back or quit but were not successful.
8. Much time spent using: You spend a lot of your time using the substance.
9. Physical or psychological problems related to use: Your substance use has led to physical health problems.
10. Activities are given up to use: You have skipped activities or stopped doing activities you once loved and instead used the substance.
11. Craving: You have experienced cravings for the substance.
Harmful Use in Substance Abuse
Health officials consider substance use as crossing the line into substance abuse if repeated use causes significant impairment. This is really the definition of substance abuse and includes:
- Failure to meet responsibilities
- Health issues
- Impaired control
- Risky use
- Social issues
This actually means that if you drink enough to get often hangovers, miss school or work, or lose friends because of it, then you are probably at the abuse level. Despite this, it is not that simple.
Definition of Abuse With Illegal Drugs
When most people talk about substance abuse, they are referring to the use of illegal drugs. Drugs of abuse do more than alter your mood. They can cloud your judgment, change your perceptions, and alter your reaction times. This can all put you in danger of accident and injury.
Drugs became illegal in the first place because of the definition of substance abuse. They are addictive and dangerous.
Definition of Substance Abuse with Recreational Use
Some people believe that casual, recreational use of some drugs is not harmful. Instead, they believe that the definition of substance abuse makes it only use. Despite this, there are many harmful effects that occur but abusing any drug or alcohol, even though it might be legal.
Definition of Abuse with Alcohol
Alcohol is a legal consumption item for anyone over the age of 21 in the United States. Although there is nothing “wrong” with having a couple of drinks, it becomes the definition of substance abuse when you reach a dangerous level of drinking.
Drinking five or more drinks for men, and four for women, in any one sitting is considered the definition of substance abuse. This can be very harmful to your physical and mental health in many different ways.
What is Abuse: Is It Causing You Harm?
For many legal substances, the line between use and abuse is not clear. The definition of substance abuse is thin. Is having a couple of drinks every day after work substance abuse?? Is drinking coffee in the morning, to get your day started, use or abuse? What about smoking a pack of cigarettes?
You can only decide this for yourself. The best way to understand if you suffer from the definition of substance abuse is to ask yourself is, “Is this causing me harm?”
Why Substance Abuse is Harmful to Society
When it comes to illegal substances, society has determined that their use is harmful. This is why many drugs are illegal. This is to promote wellbeing and protect everyone from the definition of substance abuse. Substance abuse is known to cause related healthcare costs, lost productivity, the spread of diseases, crime, and homelessness.
If you are struggling with substance abuse, we can help. At Find Addiction Rehabs we give you the information you need to get healthy and find a treatment program. Contacts us today to learn more about all of our options. Break the cycle of substance abuse.