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Substance Abuse and Addictive Behaviors

Substance abuse and addictive behaviours describe degrading actions which deteriorate the well-being of an individual. Substance abuse is caused when an individual becomes completely dependent on alcohol and/or drugs, which can also include prescription pills. Conversely, addictive behaviours can be substance related or activity based and are characteristic of behaviours which become a required part of an individual’s life, but have negative consequences.  

There are a wide range of activities which individuals can become addicted to and be harmed from. For example, gambling, sexual activity, an obsession with exercise or an unhealthy food related addiction can all be classified as addictive behaviours. Although initially these activities may seem harmless, continued participation in them can be detrimental. For instance, an addiction to gambling can cause an individual to take risky chances or make unsafe bets and in the worst case, cause an individual to become economically unstable.

Substance abuse is a behaviour which can also be classified as addictive. For example, an individual who is an alcoholic can become so dependent on alcohol that they cannot go about living their daily life without drinking. Particular life circumstances, such as extreme stress, a traumatic event or the loss of a loved one, can cause an individual to become a substance abuser and this can cause economic, social and health-related problems.

Substance abuse and addictive behaviours can be placed under the category of social work because they are issues which often require outside intervention. Different social organizations run assistance programs for individuals who are harming themselves through destructive self-behaviour. However, it is often difficult for an individual to realize and admit that the behaviour they are engaging in is self-destructive. Thus, in some cases, the best way to assist individuals who are suffering from substance abuse or addictive behaviours is to have someone close to them recognize the problem and call for outside help.


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