Destination Hope Blog » What is Substance Abuse?

What is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse is a term used to describe an unhealthy, improper or harmful use of substances such as drugs are alcohol. Dependence is not a part of the problem, which is what makes abuse differ from addiction. Substance abuse is just as dangerous as an addiction, and treatment is just as important.


Negative Effects of Substance Abuse

Harmful drug use may include social problems, health problems, problems with work or school and others. Substance abuse is used to describe the continued use of these substances despite these issues. With continued substance abuse, problems only progress and become worse, whether those issues be physical, psychological or social.

One example of substance abuse progressing and escalating out of control is suicide. The suicide rate amongst substance abusers is much higher than that of those who do not use drugs or alcohol. In fact, it is estimated that in the United States, approximately 30 percent of suicides are related to substance abuse.

There are a number of reasons that the suicide rate may be so high amongst substance abusers. Oftentimes, people suffering from mental illness will turn to substance abuse as a form of self-medication. Because these people are suffering from a mental illness, the risk of suicide is higher to begin with and substance abuse only makes the risk greater.

The relationship between substance abuse and mental illness is thought to go the other way as well. Those who abuse substances over time may develop various forms of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.

Substance Abuse & Dual Diagnosis

Severe anxiety and depression are dual diagnoses that are commonly brought on or made worse by substance abuse. Substance abuse is also commonly dual diagnosed along with obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and various personality disorders.

These illnesses can be difficult to cope with on their own and many turn to substance abuse as a way to try to control the symptoms. In reality, this type of self-medication doesn’t work and will often only make symptoms worse and alter moods even more severely.

Substance abuse may also lead to poor decision-making, which can increase someone’s despair and can lead to dangerous situations. Additionally, because substance abuse lowers inhibitions and can hinder clear thinking and decision-making, those who may already be having problems may cross a line that they normally wouldn’t.

Without professional help, the problems tend to build on each other, spiraling out of control.

Destination Hope is a substance abuse treatment center with expertise in treating alcoholism, substance abuse, drug addiction, and mental health issues. We specialize in tailoring our programs to meet our client’s individual needs, while in a warm and comfortable environment. If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse, please call our counselors today and let us help you.