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Is there a simple drug abuse definition?

Does something like caffeine fall under a drug abuse definition?
Does something like caffeine fall under a drug abuse definition?

Is there a simple drug abuse definition?

Often times, people come to us looking for a specific drug abuse definition hoping that we can provide clear answers in times of definite struggle.  Obviously people ask because they feel as though we might have the answer that tells them if they are dealing with drug abuse or if their problems aren't really abuse.  Let's take a look at a simple drug abuse definition from a dictionary:

drug abuse

noun

1. addiction to drugs.

2. substance abuse involving drugs.

(source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/drug+abuse?s=t)

Well that doesn't tell us too much other than an addiction to drugs which we probably could have figured out from the question itself.  So how else can we define drug abuse?  Essentially the definition of drug abuse can be explained as when drug use impacts normal every day actions or life.  For example, having a few drinks every now and again might not constitute drug abuse.  However, if those times when you have a few drinks always leads into negative situations then you might have a problem on your hands.

Official Drug Abuse Definition

Officially speaking the definition of drug abuse, according to University of Maryland Medical Center, is " the use of illegal drugs, or the misuse of prescription or over-the-counter drugs for at least a year with negative consequences".  But for many reasons this misses the mark!  What about those people who have problems with legal drugs like alcohol or cigarettes? Do those drugs fit the drug abuse definition as the University of Maryland Medical Center says? Not according to them.

The rest of world sees things differently too.  Take for example the World Health Organization who does not take a definition of drug abuse at all and instead chooses to exclude it because it is too ambiguous for most people. Really they are claiming that the definition of drug abuse can be done in so many ways that one specific answer can't be right.

You can see that the process of defining drug abuse can be complex and different depending on which resource you ultimately choose to use.  We think that if you feel as though you have a problem with a particular drug then you should be able to define that as drug abuse if you choose to.  Even innocuous drugs such as caffeine can cause a person to be addicted to them and as soon as their world starts revolving around that then it could become addiction.

Why the ambiguity with drug abuse definition?

The ambiguity of a drug abuse definition comes from the medical community wanting to have clearly defined limits, roles and answers to common problems.  The issue is that not everyone fits into a clear, easy one size fits all and some people fall through the cracks.  We try and be as objective as possible to help people when they need it the most.

Hopefully this has helped some of you to understand why we can't always come up with a drug abuse definition that clearly fits an individual person but we try hard to provide at least a clear path for understanding and then you can choose your own way to deal with it.  Do you have questions we can help you answer?

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