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Substance Abuse

What is substance abuse?

Substance abuse refers to the dangerous use of addictive substances, such as alcohol and illegal drugs. Substance abuse can lead to addiction, or a strong desire to consume the substance repeatedly. Once an addiction has started, it can be very difficult for the user to stop consuming the substance, even if they want to.  It is common to think that people who have a substance abuse problem just need to have more willpower in order to stop…but this is not true.  People can overcome drug addiction or substance abuse, however, most people will need the help of professionals such as doctors and counselors in order to do that.

What are some common substances that are abused?

Tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, cough and cold medicine, and other club drugs and hallucinogens are commonly abused.

Who is affected by substance abuse?

Substance abuse can affect anyone although most users tend to be teenagers or adults. Abusing substances can create a whole lot of problems for the user including: loss of employment, failure in school, loss of ties to family and friends, many health problems, and even death. These problems can quickly lead to other problems such as becoming homeless or getting involved with people who are dangerous or abusive. Besides the user, families, friends, and significant others can also be affected by substance abuse. They may feel guilt over not knowing how to provide help and may suffer over the loss of the loved one they once knew…before that person became addicted to substances.

Why are substances abused?

Most people do not start off planning to abuse substances. Many will try an addictive substance because a friend talks them into it and they quickly become addicted.  Other people have taken medicine to relieve pain from an injury and later became addicted to the medicine.  Still, others may be dealing with difficult work or family situations and may make the unwise choice to turn to a substance as a way to numb painful feelings they are having.  

How can substance abuse be stopped?

Preventing substance abuse is as important as treating those who have an addiction. Did you know that when young people consider substance abuse as harmful, they are less likely to abuse and more likely to reduce their intake of the substance? It’s extremely important to raise awareness about the dangers of substance abuse. 


Learn More

Video: Why are drugs so hard to quit?Video: Anyone can become addictedHigh Risk Substance Use Among Youth(PDF) Books on this topic

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