Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. Psychoactive substance use can lead to dependence syndrome - a cluster of behavioural, cognitive, and physiological phenomena that develop after repeated substance use and that typically include a strong desire to take the drug, difficulties in controlling its use, persisting in its use despite harmful consequences, a higher priority given to drug use than to other activities and obligations, increased tolerance, and sometimes a physical withdrawal state.
Policies which influence the levels and patterns of substance use and related harm can significantly reduce the public health problems attributable to substance use, and interventions at the health care system level can work towards the restoration of health in affected individuals.
Substance abuse, which has substantial health, social and economic costs, has become a major public health concern in both developed and developing countries in the Western Pacific Region.
Clinical Policy and Research Division, Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia (DASSA)
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales
National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University of Technology
Mental Health Institute, Central South University
Kurihama Alcoholism Centre, National Hospital Organization
Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation (SHORE), Massey University