Substance Use and Dependence - DRHC Dubai Psychiatry Clinic

Use of any substance that is not required by the body or any substance at higher than required doses or in inappropriate situations can constitute as substance misuse. This can include legal substances, such as alcohol and tobacco, prescription medicines and illicit drugs. Substance use and misuse can lead to individual and social harm, either immediately or over a period of time.

Let’s try to understand some common terms associated with substance use and misuse:


A substance recognized by an official pharmacopoeia or formulary. A substance intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. A substance (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body. However, in common language of addiction, drug is frequently used in exchange with substance.

Substance Use:

Refers to the use of substances that changes the way a person thinks, feels, or behaves. These include legal substances (alcohol and nicotine), illegal substances (ecstasy,crystal,meth,cocaine),prescription drugs (psychotropics, benzodiazepines,) and painkillers (opioids, gabapentinoids) that can be consumed, inhaled, injected, or otherwise absorbed into the body with for gaining euphoria (pleasure) with possible dependence and other detrimental effects.


Abuse refers to use of any substance in a manner that is detrimental to individual’s health and/or causes significant social and financial problems on individuals, families and society.

Hazardous use:

Use of alcohol or any other substance in a way that places individuals at risk for adverse health events (eg, physical or psychological harm).

Harmful use:

Use of alcohol or any other substance in a pattern that results in adverse health events (eg, physical or psychological harm).

Psychoactive Substance (or drug):

Natural or synthetic substances that, when consumed or administered by the individual, acts on the nervous system affecting the mental processes, such as thoughts, emotions, perception, consciousness, and bring about changes in personality when consumed over long period of time. 

Narcotic Substance (or drug):

Natural or synthetic substances that, when consumed or administered by the individual, acts on the nervous system and causes dullness of senses, relieves pain, and induces sleep.

Substance (or drug) Dependence:

Refers to an altered physical or psychological state that is caused by prolonged use of substances and leads to physical or psychological signs and symptoms (also known as withdrawal syndrome) when substance is discontinued.

Substance addiction (or drug addiction):

Neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by a recurring desire to continue using or consuming the substance despite adverse consequences to self, and/or others. Addiction is marked by a significant change in behaviour caused by the biochemical changes in the brain after continued substance use. It is characterised by compulsive drug use and craving, leading to drug seeking and repetitive use, even in the face of negative health and social consequences.

The consequences of substance addiction include mortality, morbidity, comorbidity, financial difficulties, job loss, social isolation, and stigma. People with addiction are usually marginalized in societies and are in need of Psychiatric treatment and care. It is not enough to ridicule and shame substance users or to incarcerate people for illicit substance abuse and dependence. Evidence-based treatments need to be undertaken so as to provide treatment for substance users

Management of Substance Use and Dependence:

There is no magical solution or “one-size-fits-all” formula in treating substance dependence. It is a long process, with varying services, not always adequately available or provided. This is a chronic recurring illness, needing repeated treatments until abstinence is achieved. Recovery is a long process and requires significant effort on part of treatment providers, patients themselves and their family members/ caregivers.

The treatment of substance dependence can be broadly divided as:

Detoxification/ Withdrawal management:

This constitutes use of medications to facilitate the period of immediate cessation of substances. Patients may experience various signs and symptoms during this phase which makes quitting substances difficult. Medications can help make this process bearable and enable individuals to stop using substances.

Relapse Prevention:

This process is undertaken once the detoxification is over and patient is not experiencing any withdrawal. This is a therapeutic process involving multiple sessions wherein detailed discussions about how to prevent the patient from starting substance use again. It involves building-up motivation to quit and remain abstinent

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If you are experiencing any signs and symptoms of a Substance Use and Dependence, please don't hesitate to contact our best psychiatrist in Dubai at the Dr Rami Hamed Center, Call +97142798200 to Schedule Your Appointment Today. We have the best psychiatry doctor, and our psychiatry clinic is situated in Dubai Healthcare City.


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