Addiction | 6 min read

Drug Misuse Definition: How To Know If You Or Someone You Love Is Misusing Drugs

Medically Reviewed

Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

On August 27, 2022

Written By

Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

On May 15, 2022

New York Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center Near me
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Drug abuse is a serious mental disorder affecting thousands of people and their families annually. People who misuse drugs are part of the drug abuse category, with many becoming addicted to the substances they misuse.

Drug misuse is when a person uses a substance for a purpose that is inconsistent with medical or legal instructions. Drug misuse has a huge negative impact on people’s health and general wellness. Drug misuse frequently becomes a dependency, and a person becomes addicted to the misuse of a substance.

Many people think that they will not be the one who becomes addicted to misusing their drugs, but it is more common than people think. While we assume the worst will never happen to us, when it comes to addictive substances, the worst frequently happens to most.

It is important to know and understand the definition of drug misuse so that it can be identified in people. In addition, it is important to identify drug misuse because of its common nature and potential for abuse and addiction.

Please read on to learn more about drug misuse and the signs and symptoms of drug misuse so that you can help yourself or your loved ones who are suffering from drug misuse.

What Is The Definition Of Drug Misuse?

The definition of drug misuse is using a drug or substance that does not follow the proper medical or legal instructions. It also includes using the drug for a purpose other than what it is legally and medically designed for.

Thousands of people misuse drugs every year, and it has become commonplace for people to self-medicate and self-diagnose medical issues. This is not only dangerous because of the medical and health risks associated with self-diagnosing and self-medicating, but it is increasing the number of people who become addicted to drugs after misusing them.

Drug misuse is a very easy way for people to become addicted to drugs. Regardless of the type of drug that the person is misusing, any drug that is not being used for its regulated purpose has the potential to turn into an addiction.

What Is The Definition Of Drug Misuse?

For people using drugs incorrectly, it is a slippery slope from self-medicating and self-diagnosing to becoming heavily addicted to a drug and having their lives overturned. This is similar to those prescribed opioid medications for pain who later become addicted to the opioids and turn to street drugs to get cheaper and more effective drugs.

Because it is so common to misuse drugs, many people do not think that misusing drugs is an actual problem. However, drug misuse is a serious issue. It is very dangerous to assume that you understand how a drug works more than a certified medical professional. People who misuse drugs are at a higher risk of potentially overdosing or mixing a deadly combination of drugs.

Regulation is an extremely important part of medical drug use. Without it, it would be nearly impossible to know and monitor medical drug use. In addition, regulation helps prevent toxic and fatal drug mixes. Without supervision and medical attention, there is a huge risk of creating a toxic or deadly combination of drugs.

How The Definition And Signs Of Drug Misuse Can Tell You If You Or A Loved One Is Struggling With A Drug Problem

Drug misuse is an issue related to substance abuse and substance use disorder. Substance use disorders are mental disorders classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, fifth edition.

While there is no specific designation for drug misuse in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it is a general assumption that drug misuse is a part of substance use disorder. Because of the severity of substance use disorder, it is important to address the issues as they arise. If you or a loved one suffers from drug misuse or other related substance use, you must recognize the signs early to prevent severe physical injury or death.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of drug misuse and substance use disorder early can be the difference between catching the disorder early and becoming heavily addicted to substances and misused drugs.

The following are a variety of symptoms that you may experience while misusing drugs related to a substance use disorder.

  • Feeling like you must use the drug several times a day or frequently
  • Experiencing intense cravings and urges to take the drug that rules your thoughts.
  • Building tolerance and needing more drugs to achieve the same effect over time.
  • Misusing and using a drug for a longer time than intended or using more of the drug than intended.
  • Maintaining a large supply of the drug.
  • Spending money on purchasing drugs even if you cannot afford them.
  • Neglecting social applications such as work, relationships, and education because of misuse of drugs.
  • Continue using the drugs even though you know that you are using them incorrectly and that they are causing problems for your life and body.
  • Experiencing behavioral changes.
  • Participating in risky behavior or other behaviors you did not participate in before the drug use.
  • Spending lots of time, energy, and money to get the drug, recover from the drug, and use the drug.
  • Unable to stop using the drug.
  • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal and detoxification when trying to stop taking the drugs.

When you are trying to see if a loved one is using drugs and experiencing addiction or substance abuse because of it, there are certain signs to look for. The signs include being able to recognize symptoms of unhealthy drug misuse and abuse as well as intoxication.

One of the most common signs of unhealthy or abusive drug use in a loved one is problems concerning their career or education. If they are frequently missing work or school commitments, that can mean they are struggling with drug misuse. Additionally, if they are suddenly disinterested in school activities or work agreements, it could be connected to drug misuse. Lastly, if their grades or work performance suddenly decreases in value, they may be letting their drug misuse affect their education or work.

If a family member or loved one’s physical health suddenly begins to deteriorate, that could be a significant indication of drug misuse. Lack of energy and lowered motivation levels are very common in people who misuse drugs. Extreme weight loss or extreme weight gain are also significant indications. Red, bloodshot eyes and frequent bloody noses also indicate drug misuse.

If a loved one suddenly begins to neglect their hygiene and self-care or lacks interest in how they are grooming and presenting themselves to the world, this could be a sign of drug misuse.

Signs Of Drug Misuse Can Tell You If You Or A Loved One Is Struggling With A Drug Problem

Finally, the last two indications of unhealthy drug misuse are extreme changes in behavior and financial problems. Changes in Behavior can span from trying to keep family members or friends away from their personal spaces, being secretive about where they are going and who their friends are, changes in personality, extreme moodiness, and relationship issues within friendships and romantic relationships.

Financial issues are another huge indication of a drug misuse issue. If someone suddenly begins requesting money without a clear explanation, becomes in debt, or money and items with value begin to go missing from home, they may have a drug misuse issue.

How The Definition of A Drug Misuse Can Help Guide You To The Addiction Treatment You Need

Getting help for drug misuse is an important step toward living a life that is free from drugs and healthy. Many people feel like they cannot reach out to friends and family for support for drug addiction or drug misuse issues because of a social stigma around people suffering from substance use disorders.

However, one of the most important parts of recovery and getting clean is communication. Letting people in your close inner circle know that you are struggling with substance abuse issues such as drug misuse is very important for overcoming the disorder and getting your life back on track.

Additionally, reaching out or attending a professional care facility that can help treat the underlying causes of your drug misuse and substance use disorder is extremely important and helpful. Professional care facilities and centers can help individuals struggling with drug misuse or substance use disorder overcome future issues with a confident mindset.

Everyone deserves to live a life free from drugs and healthy and happy. So please reach out to the top detox facility today to start taking the first steps toward getting your life back.

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  1. Hartney E. The Symptoms Used to Diagnose Substance Use Disorders. Verywell Mind. Published August 25, 2022. Accessed August 27, 2022.