There is no significant difference between regular substance use and substance abuse. It is hard to know when substance users have moved from using the substance to abusing it. The amount and frequency of when the substances are used could be a good indication of whether the person is using the substance the usual way or is abusing it. A person starts misusing a substance if they use it for purposes other than what they are supposed to be used for, which is associated with either a physical or psychological desire to use the substance.
Some of the Substances Which are Often Misused
Most substances which are misused are very addictive, and they may be legal or illegal. For instance, some people are addicted to illicit substances such as cocaine and cannabis. Others misuse legal substances such as caffeinated drinks including tea and coffee, alcohol, and prescribed drugs such as pain killers. For example, if a person uses sleeping pills once for some reason, and they find that they cannot sleep without taking them, that is a misuse of the tablets.
Why People Misuse Substances
Different people misuse substances for various reasons. Others do not even know they are abusing them. Some of the reasons why people misuse substances is that they want just to relax. Others want to have fun, while some are running away from life problems or pain.
Symptoms of Substance Misuse
Some of the symptoms of substance misuse include:
- Reliance on the substance to manage social, physiological or physical problems
- Inability to handle routine and essential activities
- Change of behaviour which is characterised by being involved in dangerous activities
- Withdrawal behaviour and the need for more of the abused substance to continue having the same feeling
- Health problems associated with substance abuse. Some substances, when misused, can cause serious health issues such as liver problems when alcohol is abused, or even slow healing of other health conditions such as knee osteoarthritis and diabetes, among other illnesses
- Inability to control their usage of the misused substance, which worsens the situation
Help for Substance Misuse
Sometimes people who misuse substances do not want to accept their situation. However, it helps if they agree that they have a problem and try to seek assistance. Some of the ways they can get help include:
- Acceptance of the misuse of the substance and willingness to speak about it
- Seeking support from people around them such as relatives and close friends
- Looking for the best option to get them out of their situation. There are a lot of programmes which can help people who misuse substances, such as rehabilitation centres or counselling, among others.
- Looking for other options to manage their situation rather than using substances
- Being focused and committed to the recovery process, which is often long and challenging.