Drug abuse

These terms are used widely to refer to drug use and are contested.

The terms abuse and misuse are contested being regarded by some people as judgemental, moralistic and inaccurate.

They may be regarded as inaccurate or stigmatising as people using drugs are not using the product for a purpose for which it was not designed. They are not abusing or misusing the drugs. An exception may be claimed if people are using pharmaceuticals in ways that goes against advice from the supplier – i.e. a prescriber as opposed to a dealer. However, objection is given to this form of use – for example the abuse of prescribed medicines on the grounds that it is stigmatising and focusses on the behaviour rather than the cause (see alcohol abuse or alcohol misuse).

These terms may be regarded as derogatory or stigmatising to people with substance problem as it promotes the idea that that kind of use is wholly distinct from other people’s use of the same substance which is not always the case.