Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

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

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

Substance Dependence

Commonly referred to as addiction, is a more advanced form of substance abuse. At least three of the following characteristics must be present:

  • Tolerance of the substance—the person must consume increasingly larger amounts to feel any effects.
  • Experience of withdrawal symptoms upon trying to end substance use.
  • The substance is often taken in larger amounts over a longer period of time than was intended.
  • A persistent desire for substance or unsuccessful efforts to control substance use.
  • Considerable time and money spent trying to obtain, use, or recover from substance abuse.
  • 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, including morphine, heroin, and prescription painkillers
  • Stimulants
  • Cocaine or crack
  • Amphetamines, including meth
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Hallucinogens—psychedelic drugs such as LSD
  • Cannabis, including marijuana
Call for Help at 988 Horizontal

When You Should Call

If you or someone you know is experiencing drug abuse/dependence and/or exhibiting any of the following warning signs, the Arkansas Crisis Center is here for you to provide emotional support and resources in your area. If someone is in immediate danger or you are unable to connect, please dial 9-1-1.

  • Changes in physical appearance (bloodshot eyes, pupil size, changes in appetite/sleep, decline in grooming habits, tremors, slurred speech, impaired coordination)
  • Poor work/school performance and attendance
  • Sudden financial issues
  • Changes in social life
  • Repeatedly getting into trouble
  • Changes in personality
  • Unexpected mood swings, irritability or angry outbursts
  • Lack of motivation
  • Seems fearful, anxious or paranoid