Substance abuse

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.[4] 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.[5]

Substance abuse
Other namesDrug abuse, substance use disorder, substance misuse disorder
A tin containing drugs and drug paraphernalia
SpecialtyPsychiatry
ComplicationsDrug overdose
Frequency27 million[1][2]
Deaths307,400 (2015)[3]
A person sniffing an inhalant

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 disposition which is learned from others, or a habit which, if addiction develops, manifests itself as a chronic debilitating disease.[6]

In 2010 about 5% of people (230 million) used an illicit substance.[1] Of these 27 million have high-risk drug use otherwise known as recurrent drug use causing harm to their health, psychological problems, or social problems that put them at risk of those dangers.[1][2] In 2015 substance use disorders resulted in 307,400 deaths, up from 165,000 deaths in 1990.[3][7] 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.[3]