Substance abuse is a major public health problem that affects millions of people and places enormous financial and social burdens on society. It destroys families, damages the economy, victimizes communities, and places extraordinary demands on the education, criminal justice, and social service systems. To understand the connections between substance abuse problems and the child welfare system, it is important that substance abuse and the medical, social, and economic problems that are associated with the use and misuse of alcohol and other drugs, as well as addiction to these drugs, be clearly understood.
The use of alcohol and other drugs is a multifaceted phenomenon, varying with the individual's level of use and the dysfunction he or she experiences as a result of his or her use. The range includes the following:
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