Substance abuse is when a person abuses a substance to a point where they suffer biologically, psychology, and/or socially. Substance abuse has short term and long term effects that harm people and the people who surround them. Substance abuse goes beyond the need of medical reasons and can be in both forms legal and illegal. Substance abuse occurs before a person is physically addicted to a chemical. Substance abuse can lead to negative consequences, externally and internally. Substance abuse can lead to dependency but not always. One of the main factors surrounding this idea is that it transcends what one would normally define as a issue. Sometimes the abuse can be in the form of things like caffeine or even candy and do not have to be defined by illicit substances. Essentially anyone at anytime can experience some sort of overuse of a certain substance regardless of if it his harmful or not. Think about those people that you know who are constantly eating chocolate to escape feeling a certain way about things. By the normal definition of things it would be quite easy to assert these people as substance abusers.
What to do about substance abuse
The age old question of how to handle substance abuse really has more to do with which approach is right for the individual.