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Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

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Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is a pattern of repeated use of alcohol, drugs, or both even though this use causes unpleasant or distressing events in the user's life. You have a substance abuse problem if one or more of the following have occurred within the last 12 months:

  • Substance use interferes with your ability to carry through with your obligations at home, school, or work. This includes:
    • Repeated absences from work or school or poor performance because you are drunk, high, or hung over.
    • Getting kicked out of school; getting fired.
    • Neglecting your family or home.
  • You repeatedly use alcohol, drugs, or both in dangerous situations, such as while driving a car or a boat, or operating machinery.
  • You have legal problems related to substance abuse, such as arrests for driving under the influence (DUI) or disorderly conduct.
  • You continue to use alcohol, drugs, or both despite social or personal problems caused or made worse by use of the substance. This includes everything from arguments with a family member about drug use to physical fights with strangers.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
Last Revised October 13, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 13, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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