Substance abuse refers to taking drugs, alcohol, tobacco or other substances in a way that is harmful to health.
Substance abuse can lead to addiction or dependency.
Long-term abuse of different substances can lead to a variety of health risks. For example, prolonged tobacco intake through cigarettes can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer. Long-term high intake of alcohol can lead to liver damage, among other conditions.
Those with an addiction or dependency on substances may find that if they stop taking the substances, they develop “withdrawal symptoms”. This can involve feeling shaky, nauseous, anxious or lethargic.
A GP can discuss these issues with a person and refer them for treatment. Community organisations can also offer treatment for addiction to substances.
Behavioural therapy and counselling are important treatments for substance abuse and addiction. Medicine may sometimes be appropriate.