Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is defined as a maladaptive pattern of substance use that leads to significant impairment and distress.  At least one of these characteristics must occur within one year:

  • recurrent substance use, resulting in the failure to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home
  • recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically dangerous
  • recurrent substance-related legal problems
  • substance use that continues despite causing or increasing, social and interpersonal problems

Substance Dependence

Substance dependence, commonly referred to as addiction, is a more advanced form of substance abuse.  At least 3 of the following characteristics must be present:

  • tolerance of the substance–person must consume increasingly larger amounts to feel any effects
  • experience of withdrawal symptoms upon trying to end substance use
  • substance is often taken in larger amounts over a longer period of time than was intended
  • persistent desire for substance or unsuccessful efforts to control substance use
  • considerable time and money spent trying to obtain, use, or recover from substance
  • substance use instead of participation in important activities
  • substance use that continues despite causing, or increasing, persistent physical or psychological problems

 What makes something a “substance?”

“Substance,” or “drug,” may refer to any substance other than food or water that affects a person’s body or mind.  They may be legal (prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco) or illegal.  There are several types of substances:

  • depressants
  • alcohol
  • sedatives (often used to reduce anxiety)
  • opiates (includes morphine, heroin, prescription pain killers)
  • stimulants
  • cocaine/crack
  • amphetamines (includes meth)
  • caffeine
  • nicotine
  • hallucinogens—psychedelic drugs such as LSD
  • cannabis—includes marijuana

More Resources on Substance Abuse

Arkansas Central Office of Alcoholics Anonymous

Hotline: 501-664-7303

Find meetings:

Arkansas Region of Narcotics Anonymous

Find meetings: