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Substance abuse – Drug abuse

Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse, refers to a maladaptive pattern of use of a substance that is not considered dependent. The term “drug abuse” does not exclude dependency, but is otherwise used in a similar manner in nonmedical contexts. The terms have a huge range of definitions related to taking a psychoactive drug or performance enhancing drug for a non-therapeutic or non-medical effect. All of these definitions imply a negative judgment of the drug use in question (compare with the term responsible drug use for alternative views). Some of the drugs most often associated with this term include alcohol, amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, methaqualone, and opioids. Use of these drugs may lead to criminal penalty in addition to possible physical, social, and psychological harm, both strongly depending on local jurisdiction. Other definitions of drug abuse fall into four main categories: public health definitions, mass communication and vernacular usage, medical definitions, and political and criminal justice definitions.

Worldwide, the UN estimates there are more than 50 million regular users of heroin, cocaine and synthetic drugs.

Substance abuse is a form of substance-related disorder.

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As a value judgment

As a value judgment

Philip Jenkins points out that there are two issues with the term “drug abuse”. First, that constitutes a “drug” is debatable. For instance, GHB, a naturally occurring substance in the central nervous system is considered a drug, and is illegal in many countries, while nicotine is not officially considered a drug in most countries. Second, the word “abuse” implies a recognized standard of use for any substance. Drinking an occasional glass of wine is considered acceptable in many Western countries, while drinking several bottles is seen as an abuse. Strict temperance advocates, which may or may not be religiously motivated, would see drinking even one glass as an abuse, and some groups even condemn caffeine use in any quantity. Similarly, adopting the view that any (recreational) use of marijuana or amphetamines constitutes drug abuse implies that we have already decided that substance is harmful even in minute quantities.

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