Substance Abuse 101: What is Substance Abuse?

Apicha Community Health Center Dec 31, 2018  

Apicha CHC

As human beings, it's common sense to put things that are good for us into our bodies, as well as things that make us feel good. But sometimes, those things we consume end up being harmful to our well being and health.

Substance abuse, which refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs, is a big issue for many. In this blog series, we're going to discuss what substance abuse is, different kinds of abused substance, and their negative health effects.

What is Substance Abuse?

As defined by the World Health Organization, substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. Psychoactive substance use can lead to dependence syndrome -- a cluster of behavioral, cognitive, and physiological phenomena that develop after repeated substance use and that typically include a strong desire to take the drug, difficulties in controlling its use, persisting in its use despite harmful consequences, a higher priority given to drug use than to other activities and obligations, increased tolerance, and sometimes a physical withdrawal state.

What Substances are we Talking About?

There is a range of different substances, both legal and not, that are often abused. Also, some of these substance may be legal, but by abusing and using them for the wrong purposes, they fall under the list of abused substances. In this blog, most of the drugs we're going to talk about are illegal, with a few exceptions.

Why is Substance Abuse a Problem?

Apart from the fact that many used substances are illegal, most of them have harmful effects on your health. Not only does substance abuse harm your health, it can also negatively affect other part of your life as well. It can affect your social life, your career, your finances, and overall way of life. 

Abused substances often have different negative health effects, but they are all damaging to your health, well being, and even your safety. Many drugs, like cocaine and heroin, affect your central nervous system. You can also overdose on many of these substances; meaning, a number of these drugs can kill you if consumed, and if consumed in large quantities. 

But wait -- there's more. A majority of these drugs are extremely addictive. Use of some of these drugs can lead to a chemical dependency, which means compulsive use of a drug and substance and an inability to stop. And, it may also lead to a physical need to consume a drug or substance, otherwise your body can go into withdrawal. 

The Statistics Don't Lie

Substance abuse is a nation-wide problem. And if you've been following the news, you've heard about the rising opioid epidemic, that's been claiming the lives of many. Countless reporting and surveys have found that substance abuse, especially the use of prescription drugs, is a serious health problem.

  • In the most recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 48.5 million persons in the U.S., or 18.0% of persons aged 12 years and older, reported use of illicit drugs or misuse of prescription drugs in 2016.
  • Around 66% of the more than 63,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016 involved a prescription or illicit opioid.
  • People who are addicted to prescription opioid painkillers are 40 times more likely to also be addicted to heroin.
  • More than 15 million people struggle with an alcohol use disorder in the United States, but less than eight percent of those receive treatment.
  • Alcohol poisoning kills six people every day. Of those, 76 percent are adults ages 35-64, and three of every four people killed by alcohol poisoning are men.
  • Alcohol-impaired driving accounts for more than 30 percent of all driving fatalities each year.
How Apicha CHC Can Help

If you struggle with substance abuse and addiction, Apicha CHC can help. Talking about substance abuse and, when necessary, working together to create an action plan is part of standard care at Apicha CHC. If you'd like to schedule an appointment, click the link below. 

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