The dialog of substance abuse is ongoing and has many different perspectives. The simple medical view can be broken down to chemical and psychological dependence and substance abuse. Dependence is the continued need to use a substance. This may be caused by a chemical dependence, meaning one will potentially become ill or have medically significant withdrawal symptoms if they quit or decrease the dose of the substance. Opiate based drugs and medications such as morphine and heroin are known to cause strong chemical dependence. Other substances may not have a strong chemical dependence. This is associated with an intense uncontrollable sensation or desire to use the substance, discontinued use may result in mood imbalances and symptoms such as irritability. Cannabis (marijuana) is not associated with a chemical dependence. However, it does pose potential for psychological dependence.
Substance abuse is simply defined as the continued use of a substance even though it is causing problems in an individual’s life.