It becomes a problem when a person experiences one or more of these instances:
- when use of a drug results in negative consequences ( physical, mental, social, emotional, legal, economic or environmental consequences)
- when a person continues to use a drug despite negative consequences to him or herself or to other people such as family, friends or employer
- when a person has built up tolerance to a drug or alcohol (using more to achieve the same effect)
- when a person experiences withdrawal symptoms when use stops
- when a drug used for medicinal purposes is used for too long, at the wrong dosage or because the person does not use it as directed
- When drug is used too much
- When drug is taken too frequently
- When person becomes dependent on the drug, and feel they need it to function
- When person binges on a substance, for example: Many of the problems caused by alcohol result from drinking too much at one time.
- When a person uses drugs for too long
- When a person takes drug for the wrong reason, for example, using alcohol as a way of coping with unpleasant emotions, rather than drinking as part of a social or celebratory occasion)
- When a person is taking drugs without paying attention to label directions and warnings ( especially with drugs that can impair driving), or should not be mixed with alcohol
- When a person takes a drug that was originally prescribed for someone
- When a person combines drugs producing unwanted and unexpected effects.
- When a person takes extremely dangerous drugs like PCP (Angel Dust), and inhalants such as gasoline, the potential dangers are extremely high and there are no legitimate human uses.
Moreover, any drug abuse can result in personal problems such as loss of motivation, or physical and/or psychological dependence, problems at work or school. It can also result in increased risk of health problems such as illness, injuries and physical damage to the body or death. Abuse can result in family problems and family breakdown. It contributes to social problems like increased crime, family violence, traffic violations and crashes. Drug abuse can also result in financial costs to society for things like health care, lost productivity, and/or crime.