What is substance abuse/chemical dependence?
There are three different terms used to define substance-related disorders, including the following:
Substance abuse is used to describe a pattern of substance (drug) use leading to significant problems or distress such as failure to attend school, substance use in dangerous situations (driving a car), substance-related legal problems, or continued substance use that interferes with friendships and or family relationships. Substance abuse, as a disorder, refers to the abuse of illegal substances or the abusive use of legal substances. Alcohol is the most common legal drug of abuse.
Substance dependence is used to describe continued use of drugs or alcohol, even when significant problems related to their use have developed. Signs include an increased tolerance or need for increased amounts of substance to attain the desired effect, withdrawal symptoms with decreased use, unsuccessful efforts to decrease use, increased time spent in activities to obtain substances, withdrawal from social and recreational activities, and continued use of substance even with awareness of physical or psychological problems encountered by extent of substance use.
Chemical dependence is also used to describe the compulsive use of chemicals (drugs or alcohol) and the inability to stop using them despite all the problems caused by their use.