What is Substance Abuse?

Updated: Jun 19, 2018

Everyone has a unique story.  

Some people’s stories may be similar, but the details are still unique to that individual.  One way our stories are similar is that they all have moments of joy, pain, and love.

But sadly, some stories also contain substance abuse.

Whether it is a parent, a sibling, a friend, or yourself; many of us have substance abuse written somewhere in the story of our lives.

Thankfully there are many programs available to help.  Many people automatically think of programs like AA, but there are also many alternatives to AA that have done much good as well.

In this post we are going to look at what substance abuse is as well as two main kinds of substance abuse.

What is substance abuse?

The most basic definition of substance abuse is simply “The overindulgence in or dependence on an addictive substance, especially alcohol or drugs” as defined by dictionary.com.

There is a distinction between using a legal substance properly and substance abuse.

Take alcohol, for example.

We all know that alcohol is legal for people ages 21 and older, as long as certain legal parameters are met and laws are not broken.  

Substance abuse occurs when we take these legal, as well as illegal, substances and begin using them in ways that are harmful to either ourselves or those around us.  

Signs of substance abuse occur when we become dependent on the substance, have difficulty controlling its use, or exhibit harmful behavior when we are using the substance or trying to obtain it.

Illegal Substance Abuse

Most illegal drugs can cause dangerous levels of substance abuse.  After all, there is a reason that they are not allowed to be purchased freely.

These drugs may be completely illegal, or they may be illegal without a prescription or legal allowance.  Heroin and cocaine are examples of illegal drugs, and many prescription drugs from a pharmacy are examples of illegal drugs unless strict permission is given.

We hear of many examples of the dangers and substance abuse associated with illegal substance abuse.  Articles and news channels often contain stories on gangs, drug cartels, murder, and robbery that is associated with illegal substance abuse.

Illegal substance abuse often completely destroys a person’s life.  

Many dealers end up in prison, have criminal records, and are in constant danger due to violent drug rivalries.  

Sadly, users have it the worst.  While they also face prison and criminal charges, many of their lives are ruined due to the physical and emotional damage that is done by these substances.

Legal Substance Abuse

As mentioned before, there are many substances that are legal under certain conditions.  The most common are alcohol, nicotine, marijuana (in certain states), and basic painkillers.

Legal substance abuse occurs when the user becomes so dependent on one of these substances that they become addicted to it and begin to feel withdrawal symptoms if they don’t have it.

And the biggest problem?

Because these substances are legal, the user can keep obtaining the substance without the law stepping in.  For example, as long as you aren’t driving and you are age 21 or older, you are allowed to consume as much alcohol as you wish.  

However, there are victims of legal substance abuse.

Many users end up hurting themselves or those around them.  This can happen through physical violence, emotional trauma, or financial ruin.

Many people have lost jobs, ruined families, or lost their purpose because of their abuse of a legal substance.

If you suffer from substance abuse, whether legal or illegal, or you know of someone struggling with it, please seek help.  At Accept and Conquer, we know how you feel because we have walked the same path. As an alternative to AA, we will work directly with you and help you get your life back on track.  Please contact us today to help you start your new journey!

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