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A to Z: Abuse, Substance

May also be called: Alcohol Abuse, Drug Abuse

Substance abuse is when someone drinks alcohol or smokes or takes drugs in a way that could lead to health, legal, and other problems. 

More to Know

People who often use drugs or drink too much can get serious health problems. Lots of people with substance abuse problems end up dead from drug or alcohol overdose.   

Substance abuse causes problems for the user, but it also can change how well people take care of their kids. Parents or caregivers who are drunk or high might not make good decisions or be alert enough to keep babies and young children safe. Pregnant women who use drugs or drink too much can have babies with medical problems.

Parents or caregivers with a substance abuse problem might be charged with child abuse. They may even face jail time or have their kids taken away.

Keep in Mind

People with substance abuse problems often can't stop a drug or drinking habit on their own. They need professional help. Groups like Al-Anon or SAMHSA list counseling resources on their websites.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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