Substance Abuse

Q: What is substance abuse?

A: Substance abuse is the harmful or hazardous use of alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs.[1] Alcoholism is a chronic and often progressive disease that includes problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, and needing to drink more and more to get the same physical effect.[2] Drug addiction is a complex and often chronic brain disease where a person craves drugs and persists in using them, even in the face of devastating life consequences. Drug and alcohol addiction is treatable through medication and therapy.[3]


Q: What substances are most commonly abused?

A. Nicotine, Alcohol, Marijuana, Hashish, Heroin, Opium, Cocaine, Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, MDMA (Ecstasy), Flunitrazepam, GHB, Ketamine, PCP, Salvia Divinorum, DXM, LSD, Mescaline, Psilocybin (Shrooms), Anabolic Steroids, Inhalants, CNS Depressants, Stimulants, Opinoid Pain Relievers. In 2012, an estimated 23.9 million Americans aged 12 or older – 9.2% of the population – had used an illicit drug or abused prescription drugs in the past month (up from 8.3% in 2002). This most likely results from an increase in marijuana use, which is 7.3% of the population (up from 5.8% in 2007). The use of most drugs other than marijuana has not changed much over the past decade, or has even decreased (like cocaine). More than half of new illicit drug users begin with marijuana. Next most common are prescription drugs. Drug use is highest among people in their late teens and twenties, but is increasing among people in their fifties. Drinking by underage persons, drunk driving, and tobacco use has declined.[4]


Q. What are the effects of substance abuse?

A. There can be legal implications associated with it and other dangerous or behaviors that can be a result of it. Depending on which substance you abuse, they can cause real damage to the body, mind, and spirit. Risks of infectious diseases, overdose, organ damage, and other bodily harms still exist even with casual use. Also, substance abuse can be used as an escape from stress or psychological issues that really need to be addressed.[5]


Q. How quickly can I become addicted to a drug or alcohol? 

A: There is no easy answer. It depends on many factors, including your biology, age, gender, environment, as well as the type of drug you’re using. One person may use a drug many times with no ill effects while another person becomes addicted or even overdoses their first time.[6]


Q: How do I know if someone I love is addicted to drugs or alcohol?

A: A person needs help if he/she is compulsively using drugs or drinking despite negative consequences such as loss of job, family problems, or physical problems. While addicts may believe they can stop at any time, most often they cannot and will need professional help. For information on substance abuse treatment providers, see: or call 1-800-662-HELP.[7]


Q: Are there effective treatments for substance abuse?

A: Drug addiction can be effectively treated with therapy and for some, medication. Treatment will vary for each person depending on type of substance(s) being abused.[8]


Q. What are the costs of substance abuse to society?

A: Substance abuse (including drugs, alcohol, and tobacco) costs the US economy over $600 billion annually in increased health care costs, crime, and lost productivity. Beyond the statistics, it also contributes to the spread of infectious diseases, deaths, effects on unborn children of pregnant substance abusers, and crime, domestic abuse, the breakdown of the family, and homelessness.[9]


Q: How do I get help with substance abuse?

The most common way to start to get help is by going to an Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting near you. There are meetings daily in most cities around the country – simply go to their websites ( and and click on “find a meeting.” If you feel you need more drastic help, contact a friend to help you check into a rehab facility or check yourself in. To find a recovery program that fits your needs, go to or call 1-888-255-3773.


[1] “Substance Abuse,” World Health Organization, 2015.​. (Accessed January 22, 2015).

[2] Mayo Clinic Staff, “Alcoholism,” Mayo Clinic, 2015.​. (Accessed January 22, 2015).

[3] “FAQs” National Institute on Drug Abuse, (Accessed January 22, 2015).

[4] “Drug Facts: Nationwide Trends,” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2014.​. (Accessed January 22, 2015).

[5] “Substance Abuse vs. Addiction,” Bradford Health Services.​ . (Accessed January 22, 2015).

[6] “FAQs” National Institute on Drug Abuse . (Accessed January 22, 2015). 

[7] “FAQs” National Institute on Drug Abuse, . (Accessed January 22, 2015). 

[8] “Parents’ Guide to Gangs,” National Gang Center . (Accessed January 22, 2015). 

[9] “FAQs” National Institute on Drug Abuse, (Accessed January 22, 2015).  

Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.


Proverbs 23:31-34: 31 Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly; At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, And your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: “They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?”


1 Corinthians 5:9-13:12 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”


1 Thessalonians 5:4-8 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.


Romans 13:11-14 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.  Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.


Ephesians 5:18-21 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.