Substance abuse means taking drugs (other than those prescribed by a doctor for a specific illness) in amounts that are dangerous or that prevent a person from doing everyday things, like going to school or work. The substance being abused can be alcohol, marijuana, pills called tranquilizers that make people feel very tired or relaxed, household products that are inhaled, or a number of other drugs.
Drug abuse happens all over the world, to all kinds of people, young and old. It frequently causes terrible damage to a person’s body, to relationships with family and friends, and to career or education. In some cases, substance abuse leads to death, because the abuser gets involved in an accident or because he or she overdoses, or takes enough of the substance to cause the body to completely shut down.