Substance Use

Substance use refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol, illicit drugs, and misused prescription drugs.

Repeated substance use can lead to dependence, which typically includes a strong desire to take the drug, difficulties in controlling use, persisting in 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. 

Substance Use Disorders


 Drug use and substance use disorders (SUDs) affect millions of Americans at an enormous cost to our society. In 2014, nearly 27 million people in the United States were current users of illicit drugs or misused prescription drugs, and almost 67 million people smoked or used other harmful tobacco products. 

People with addiction should not be blamed for suffering from the disease. All people make choices about whether to use substances. However, people do not choose how their brain and body respond to drugs and alcohol, which is why people with addiction cannot control their use while others can. Treatment and recovery is possible, and everyday millions of people seek treatment and live healthy, positive lives in recovery.

Substance Use Policies and Public Health


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.

Learn more about: