Substance abuse is a behavioral disorder that consists of an abuse either on psychoactive substances (drugs) or of non-addictive substances. Many, but not all of such substances can lead to addiction. Abuse of psychoactive substances is considered by ICD-10 as drug-induced mental disorder, while the abuse of non-addictive substances is considered as a behavioral disorder associated with physiological disturbances and physical disorders.
Substance abuse practice is referred to as harmful, when the substance are taken in excessive quantity, in harmful combination with another substance, or taken routinely without medical reason. In symptoms, substance abuse may resemble habit disorders (impulse control disorders), and self-injury.
Use of certain drugs may be part of a lifestyle, such as tobacco smoke, drink alcohol, or take some drugs. Such a lifestyle can give a person medical problems, but there is no question of abuse. It is then counted by ICD-10 as “problems related to lifestyle” (Z72), as long as it is not a behavior associated with addiction and as long as it is a culturally accepted use only.
In health care, there is sometimes talk of hazardous drinking, when the practice is potentially harmful but do not meet the level to be classed as abuse. Abuse starts when the person knows the dangers and harm, but still continues.
Psychoactive substances, i.e., drugs, are substances which affect the central nervous system.
They can, depending on the variety, donate euphoria, peace, sleep, pain, and sensory experiences, and are generally addictive. These include legal drugs such as alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine, and illegal drugs such as LSD, and narcotic drugs as sleeping pills and anxiolytics.
Abuse of such substances is defined by ICD- 10 as a practice that damages health, whether the damage is physical (such as cirrhosis) or mental (for example, drug-induced psychosis), directly or indirectly (such as infection spread during syringe sharing). Such harmful use counts as a mental disorder, because it is a malicious behavior.
The abuse may be associated with addiction, such as drug addiction. This may apply to a particular substance (e.g., nicotine) or a particular group of substances (such as sleeping pills), or be a general polydrug of many chemically dissimilar substances (such as mixture of amphetamines, alcohol and heroin).
Harmful use of substances which are not addictive, i.e., narcotics, including harmful use of medicine and folk medicine, and other substances that affect the body. It includes, but is not limited to, harmful use of vitamins, aspirin, hormones, drugs classified non psychoactive drugs, laxatives, and herbs.
Such substances can alter physiological processes and therefore be harmful to abuse.
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