Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse, is the use of a drug in amounts or by methods which are harmful to the individual or others. It is a form of substance-related disorder. Differing definitions of drug abuse are used in public health, medical and criminal justice contexts. In some cases, criminal or anti-social behaviour occurs when the person is under the influence of a drug, and long-term personality changes in individuals may also occur. In addition to possible physical, social, and psychological harm, the use of some drugs may also lead to criminal penalties, although these vary widely depending on the local jurisdiction.
|Other names||Drug abuse, substance use disorder, substance misuse disorder|
|A tin containing drugs and drug paraphernalia|
Drugs most often associated with this term include: alcohol, amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cannabis, cocaine, hallucinogens, methaqualone, and opioids. The exact cause of substance abuse is not clear, but there are two predominant theories: either a genetic predisposition or a habit learned from others, which, if addiction develops, manifests itself as a chronic debilitating disease.
In 2010 about 5% of people (230 million) used an illicit substance. Of these, 27 million have high-risk drug use—otherwise known as recurrent drug use—causing harm to their health, causing psychological problems, and/or causing social problems that put them at risk of those dangers. In 2015, substance use disorders resulted in 307,400 deaths, up from 165,000 deaths in 1990. Of these, the highest numbers are from alcohol use disorders at 137,500, opioid use disorders at 122,100 deaths, amphetamine use disorders at 12,200 deaths, and cocaine use disorders at 11,100.