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Definition

Substance use is the continued use of alcohol, illegal drugs, or the misuse of prescription or over-the-counter medicines with negative consequences. These consequences may involve:

  • Problems at work, school, home or in interpersonal relationships
  • Problems with the law
  • Health problems
  • Physical risks that come with using drugs in dangerous situations

Substances that are commonly used include:

Alternative Names

Substance abuse; Illicit drug abuse; Narcotic abuse; Hallucinogen abuse

References

American Psychiatric Association. Substance-related and addictive disorders. In: American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed, text revision. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2022.

Weiss RD, Liebschutz JM. Drug use disorders. In: Goldman L, Cooney KA, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 27th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2024:chap 365.

Last reviewed June 5, 2022 by Fred K. Berger, MD, addiction and forensic psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, CA. Internal review and update on 07/23/2023 by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team..

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