Substance Abuse · Substance Use Prevention. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction differs from substance abuse in that it is a chronic illness that is incredibly difficult to control. The abuse of certain substances, such as alcohol or prescription drugs, can cause chemical changes in the brain that lead to addiction. These changes force a person to continue using the substance to which they are addicted, regardless of the negative effects.
Substance abuse is a pattern of compulsive substance use characterized by significant recurring adverse social, occupational, legal, or interpersonal consequences, such as repeated absences from work or school, arrests, and marital difficulties.