Substance abuse refers to a pattern of dependence on certain substances that are medically and legally not considered to be within the realms of what is to be a source of dependency for the human body. Substance abuse, also referred to as drug abuse, can also be defined as the overuse of drugs and substances in way that is not meant to provide either a medical or therapeutic effect.
Substance abuse is usually associated with the use of controlled substances, such as barbiturates, cocaine, marijuana, and other drugs or substances that are illegal in the United States. However, substance abuse can also refer to the abuse of prescription medication. This will usually entail using the medication in such a way which is not prescribed, particularly for recreational use.
Drug abuse and substance abuse is oftentimes subject to criminal punishment, which will vary and depend on issues such as the type of drug or substance being abused, if the drug is considered to be legal or not, and the amount of drugs that a person may be in possession of, particularly in the case of controlled substances. Aside from legal consequences, substance abuse will lead to adverse and serious health issues, affecting the body physically, psychologically, and emotionally as well.
Because of the health effects, signs of drug abuse or substance abuse may include violence and addiction or dependence on either the psychological or physical level, in some instances both.