An Overview of Substance Abuse
What Is Substance Abuse?
Substance abuse is defined as the excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs. While the definition of “excessive” may vary from person to person, there are some general rules for both men and women. For example, it is possible that men who drink more than four standard drinks a day or 14 a week are abusing substances, while women should not drink more than three drinks a day or seven a week. It is not always easy to spot the signs of abuse or addiction.
What Substances Can Be Abused?
Substance abuse also involves the use of most illegal drugs, including heroin and cocaine. Even prescribed drugs may be abused, for example, if you take another person’s medicine, exceed your prescribed dosage, or take it too frequently.
Even though marijuana is becoming legal in many parts of the country, it can still be abused. Many people choose to use it before learning if marijuana is safe and effective as medicine.
Excessive use can cause memory problems and increase the risk of schizophrenia. Using such substances while driving or operating machinery is dangerous, just as it is with drinking alcohol.
When Does It Become a Problem?
The main concern with substance abuse is that it can lead to addiction. There are five stages of addiction and it starts with a method of entertainment or coping and eventually turns into dependency. Some people use alcohol and drugs as a way to self-medicate, for example, if they have a mental illness like depression. This could not only mask their emotions and prevent them from addressing the deeper problem, but it could also exacerbate their mental illness in the long run. If someone drinks to cope with the pain of a lost spouse, they may lose custody of a child, worsening their grief.
A sign of substance abuse is when your use of alcohol or drugs has begun to negatively impact other areas of your life, such as work or parenting. You may lose interest in your hobbies or passions, or feel distant from friends and family. It is also possible that substance abuse can lead to worsening health problems due to excessive use of a substance, such as heart or liver problems. When your body begins to depend on the substance, you have become an addict. Addiction affects your brain and forms a dependency that you will need professional help to overcome.