Substance abuse is a really important term both in terms of what it means and what it doesn’t mean. Its meaning has tended to change quite a lot over the last few years and people can sometimes be confused as to what it actually means or what substances it covers.
When people first began to recognise or agree that alcoholism was an illness the focus was simply on alcohol. People then began to be diagnosed as having an addiction to various types of drugs or narcotics, both legal and illegal, description and non-prescription. People were often referred to as having a dual diagnosis where it concerned both alcohol and drugs.
The majority of people seeking help for problems with alcohol and/or drugs constituted the majority of places that were available in rehab and treatment centers for quite a long time. Rehabs and treatment centers then began to realise that they could offer addiction treatment programs for virtually any other type of addiction, most notably areas such as food, gambling or sexual addictions.
People also began to recognise that almost anyone can get addicted to any substance at some point in their lives, and for some people this would be a pattern of life or a cycle that they were unable to break on their own and needs help with. The most obvious place to turn for help would be the medical establishment, what of meaning a rehab or a treatment center.
This is where the term substance abuse really came into its full meaning, in that it has become almost an overused phrase in that it can cover virtually any substance that any individual can get addicted to at any time in their lives. People today understand that, but it is worth pointing out that the term substance abuse used to have a slightly different meaning.
People but often think of the term substance abuse in a historical context is referring to something like glue sniffing, or using any type of substance that wasn’t generally recognised as being alcohol or a mainstream type of drugs or narcotic.
The reason this is important is because many agencies and health related bodies refer to substance abuse when they are referring to alcoholism, drug addiction or any other type of substance that individuals can have an addiction or compulsion with. Understanding that this includes alcohol and/or drugs is an important part of knowing where an individual can go to get help if needed.
If in doubt the individual should contact the rehab or treatment center and get some sense of what the terminology they use means especially if usage refers to such general terms as substance abuse or addiction.