Substance abuse describes a situation where the substance (or drug) is consumed in amounts that are harmful to the user, or when the method used is detrimental. Alcohol, tobacco, and drug abuse all fall under this term.
While each drug results in different physical and psychological reactions, all abused substances share one thing in common: repeated use can alter the way the brain looks and functions.
- Drugs cause a surge in dopamine in the brain that triggers the feeling of pleasure, which the brain wants to be repeated.
- Once addicted, the substance becomes as significant as behaviours like eating and drinking.
- Changes in the brain interfere with the ability to think clearly and control behaviour.
- Whether you’re addicted to inhalants, heroin, Xanax, speed, or Vicodin, cravings become so strong that they take precedence over everything else.1
Alcohol abuse is hard to classify because there is a lot of denial involved. According to HelpGuide.org, if you have a drinking problem you may:
- Drastically underestimate how much you drink
- Downplay the negative consequences of your drinking
- Complain that family and friends are exaggerating the problem
- Blame your drinking or drinking-related problems on others
Long-term alcohol use can cause serious health complications, affecting virtually every organ in the body, damage emotional stability, finances, career, and negatively impact relationships with family, friends and coworkers.2
Tobacco is the single greatest cause of preventable deaths globally, and leads to common diseases affecting the heart, liver and lungs. It is also a factor in heart attacks, strokes, pulmonary diseases and cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that tobacco caused 5.4 million deaths in 2004 and 100 million deaths over the course of the 20th century.3
Cigarettes contain nicotine, a drug that quickly kills if ever injected into the blood stream. They also contain over 4,000 deadly chemicals and poisons, that mix together during smoking and turn into a sticky, deadly tar, which lays the path for life threatening diseases.4
3. Health Effects of Tobacco. (n.d.). Retrieved January16, 2014 from Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_effects_of_tobacco
4. Canadian Lung Association. (n.d.) Smoking and Tobacco. Retrieved from https://www.lung.ca/protect-protegez/tobacco-tabagisme/facts-faits/what-que_e.php
Substance Abuse. (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2014 from Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substance_abuse