What is Substance Abuse?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th edition), substance abuse is defined as a maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress as manifested by one (or more) of the following, occurring within a 12-month period:

  • Recurrent substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home (such as repeated absences or poor work performance related to substance use; substance-related absences, suspensions, or expulsions from school; or neglect of children or household)
  • Recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (such as driving an automobile or operating a machine when impaired by substance use)
  • Recurrent substance-related legal problems (such as arrests for substance related disorderly conduct)
  • Continued substance use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance (for example, arguments with spouse about consequences of intoxication and physical fights)
Substance abuse can be found across all ages and come in a variety of forms. 23.5 million persons aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009 (Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA's) National Survey on Drug Use and Health )

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What are some common types of substances abused?

  • Alcohol
  • Adderall
  • Amphetamine
  • Bath salts
  • Cocaine
  • Depressants (tranquilizers and barbituates)
  • Heroin
  • Inhalants
  • LSD (acid)
  • Marijuana
  • MDMA(Ecstasy)
  • Methamphetamine
  • Mushrooms
  • Nicotine
  • PCP
  • Prescription drugs
  • Salvia
  • Steroids

Where do you get help with substance abuse?

There are many professionals who specialize in providing care to those who need help with alcohol or substance abuse. These facilities, programs, and counselors offer therapeutically planned living, rehabilitative intervention, and an environment for the treatment of individuals with disorders in the abuse of alcohol, drugs, and substances. Alcohol and substance abuse providers fall into 2 categories:

  • Inpatient Programs: Programs can range based on the variety of activities & counseling offered and by length of time (30, 60, and 90 day programs). Programs may also different by gender (allowing for men or women only), or focus on a specific age group (teens, young adults, adult, and mature). Some programs are faith based, while others focus on people sentenced to a rehabilitation program versus jail time.
  • Outpatient Programs: Programs can offer several services to assist in recovery including: evaluation/assessment, alcohol and other drug educational groups, group counseling, individualized treatment planning, individual counseling sessions, family educational groups, discharge/transition planning, relapse prevention, drug screens when required, coordinated care with your physician, therapist, EAP, MCO, union and/or employer. Some programs offer legal system advocacy when needed.

Learn more about substance abuse treatment:

How to select an alcohol and drug abuse treatment program
Warning signs of substance abuse
What is alcohol abuse?
What is inhalant abuse?

Here is a list of e-books (free) you may find worth reading:
Narconon International: Talk to your Kids about Drugs
Alcohol Anonymous: An Introduction to the A.A. Recovery Program
Choose Help: Living with an Addict
National Institute of Drug Abuse: Report on Inhalant Abuse