When we hear the words “substance abuse”, too often it brings to mind the image of a stereotypical addict or “junkie”. While this is sometimes a reflection of reality, it is also possible for substance abusers to show very few, if any, outward signs of a problem. For this reason, and others, it can be difficult to identify substance abuse in those around us. Untreated substance abuse takes an enormous toll on individual lives, as well as on society at large.
Although illicit drug use is a major category of substance abuse, it is not the only one. Alcohol, inhalants, adhesives, nicotine, prescription medicines, and solvents are also subject to abuse. Recent news reports about teenagers using liquid hand soap to “get high” demonstrate the lengths to which people will go to satisfy an unquenchable desire for the abused substance.