Substance abuse

These terms are used to cover all use of substances no matter what their legal status.

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

They may be regarded as inaccurate or stigmatising as people using substances are not necessarily 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 op¬posed 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 abusedrug abuse)

It may be conceded by some that in the case of solvent use, the product is being used for a purpose for which it was neither designed or, in most cases supplied. However, the term is far more broadly applied than in this instance.

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.