Also known as: drug abuse, drug addiction, substance dependence

Defined as the compulsive use of a drug or alcohol that negatively affects a person in a way that disrupts regular daily functioning and responsibilities. The physical need for the substance becomes overwhelming to the point that the addict is unable to reduce consumption using their own will power.

Substance abuse does not discriminate and can affect young or old, man or woman, or any race for that matter. What does matter is how quickly substance abuse help is sought and how quickly the addict can start a substance abuse rehabilitation program under the supervision of professionals.


Signs and symptoms that can be diagnosed at a substance abuse rehab centres:

  • Substance abuse could lead to health problems, the severity of which can be assessed by a resident doctor at a substance abuse treatment centre
  • A depressed mood is a well know sign of substance abuse. There is a high rate of depression in compulsive substance abusers, caused by chemical changes in the brain. This compounds the need for a professional support team based at a centre for substance abuse treatment for when the addict is ready to enter a recovery program
  • Individuals with substance abuse challenges have higher levels of impulsivity, which studies say, could be the reason why they were willing to experiment with drugs or alcohol in the first place, leading them down the path of addiction
  • There is a lack of control when it comes to the amount of consumption. It is not uncommon for a patience to lie about their levels of substance abuse when first entering a substance abuse rehab, but over time, when working through the assigned substance abuse programs, they start seeing the importance of opening up
  • Tolerance to substances increases over time
  • Financial difficulties arise from spending too much on alcohol or drugs
  • A compulsion to spend time drinking or doing drugs over enjoying any other regular, fun, social activity, leading to a breakdown in interpersonal relationships with friends and or family members. Counselling, as part of the treatment plan at a rehab for substance abuse, includes individual, group and family sessions to overcome some of the damage done in the past – helping the addict to overcome any guilt and giving them an opportunity to make amends.


Can you recover from substance abuse?

The quick answer to this is “yes”, but when you look into the question more in depth, it’s not quite as simple as that. Recovery is a life-long process; starting with the help of a substance abuse evaluation, being admitted into substance abuse clinics, and just when you think it’s all over, the real work begins. The part of the journey where you aren’t isolated from regular society and you have to learn to cope in the real world by yourself. Having said that, most substance abuse treatment programs include ongoing support so that you know that you’re never alone on the path to a life with healthier choices.


Back to Glossary


linkYou may freely use this information on your website or other media, provided that you attribute us back with a link


FBTCC is registered with the provincial Department of Social Development



A few years ago, I started using cat and cocaine with friends. At first it was just for fun, but then it got worse...


Confidential Callback

One of our counsellors will reply in confidence.