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drug abuse and misuse

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					Drug Misuse and Abuse
The concepts of ‘drug misuse’ and ‘drug abuse’ are sometimes used interchangeably. However, according
to dictionary definitions, the terms are slightly different. Proctor (1995) defines ‘misuse’ and ‘abuse’ as
follows:

Misuse:

‘. . . to use something in an unsuitable way or in a way that was not intended’.

Abuse:

‘. . . to use or treat someone or something wrongly or badly, especially in a way that is to your own
advantage’.

The use of the term drug ‘misuse’ in the drugs literature tends to reflect these general definitions. ‘Drug
misuse’ is often used to refer to inappropriate- ate use of legal drugs and ‘drug abuse’ is often used to
refer to excessive use of legal drugs (‘bad use’) or any use of illegal drugs (‘wrong use’).

‘Drug misuse’ might arise, therefore, as a result of using legal drugs for reasons other than their intended
purpose, such as taking laxatives to achieve weight loss.

‘Drug abuse’ might arise when legal drugs are used excessively to such an extent that they could result in
harm to the user. Use of cannabis would be considered ‘drug abuse’ because, in most cases, it is an illegal
drug and any use would be regarded as abuse. Hence, it would be expected that the term ‘drug abuse’
would be most common in the drugs literature.

In a recent National Institute on Drug Abuse report, ‘problematic drug use’ is defined as: ‘The use of a
substance to modify or control mood or state of mind in a manner that is illegal or harmful to oneself or
others’ (Trachtenberg and Fleming 2004: 1).

				
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