Substance and alcohol misuse is a complex issue. While the number of people with a serious problem is relatively small, someone’s substance misuse and dependency can affect everybody around them.
Substance abuse covers the misuse of a range of mind-altering substances. It can have a severe impact on functioning as well as physical health.
Substance abuse or misuse is formally defined as the continued misuse of any mind-altering substance that severely affects a person’s physical and mental health, social situation and responsibilities.
Drinking alcohol and misusing substances are considered harmful when they lead to physical or mental health problems, such as alcohol/drug-related injury, inflammation of the liver and mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. In the longer term the person may develop high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver, heart disease, some types of cancer or brain damage.
Alcohol dependence and substance misuse can also lead to relationship problems, problems at work, college or school or violence and some drugs can increase the likelihood of a person developing psychoses and requiring long-term specialist support and treatment.