Substance Abuse: What You Must Know

Substance Abuse: What You Must Know
Substance abuse is a pattern of using a “substance” such as a drug or stimulant for non-medical reasons.  This can involve a range of addictions, including overuse of painkillers and steroids to heroin use.  Substance abuse is uniformly negative and can be subject to criminal penalties in addition to the social stigma associated with this form of abuse.

What are types of substance use?

Generally speaking, there are four characterizations to the use of a controlled substance:

- Casual/Non-problematic use – substance is used by socially and medically association constraints.  This includes tobacco and alcohol consumption for recreational and social purposes.  This is not a consideration for the health benefits of the substance but rather the frequency and acceptability of the substance.
- Beneficial use – This is the use of substances that are considered beneficial for the body.  This includes use of prescription medications for their prescribed use and herbal remedies.  Habits formed here are not considered substance abuse if used within the accepted parameters.
- Problematic use – use of the substance become bad habit forming and affects other functions.  This includes frequent drunkenness and exceeding recommended dosage of medications for purpose other than the intended prescription.
- Chronic dependence – this is serious abuse of a substance and the continued use of the substance occurs regardless of consequences.  Most drugs and other substance addiction at this point are not only problematic and harmful, but will require outside intervention to break the dependency.  Chronic dependence will cause severe consequences for the individual involved in substance abuse.

What are some explanations for substance abuse?

There are several factors that determine the risks for substance abuse.  Generally speaking, an increase of dopamine in the brain associated with recreation drugs will cause addiction and subsequent abuse in individuals.  Substance abuse is habit forming and the risk of further abuse will grow over time and with continued abuse.  

What are the legal penalties for substance abuse?

The sale, possession and use of certain recreational drugs, such as marijuana and heroin is strictly forbidden by law and will often carry severe criminal penalties or civil fines.  Most legal substances that can be abused, such as alcohol and tobacco, will have its own set of penalties.  Operating under the Influence (OUI) laws will impose severe penalties on substance abusers that operate a vehicle while under the influence of that substance.  It is assumed in this case that the substance has caused the driver to behave erratically and neglect the “duty of care” that accompanies operating a motor vehicle.

How do I end substance abuse?

Substance abuse can end only when the individual is willing to seek and help seriously pursue a regimen to end the cycle of dependence.  Therapy for substance abuse will involve exercise, medication and affirmative support to affect the brain and end the powerful compulsion to engage in substance abuse.  Failure to deal with substance abuse problems will cause short and long term medical problems as well as possible criminal penalties for the abuse of controlled substances.

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