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People who misuse / abuse drugs, alcohol or other substances may experience varying levels of distress at personal, familial, community / and societal levels. At the individual level, this may include damage to their physical and mental health and well-being, and possibly to their ability to support themselves. There may also be problems associated with their families’ lives via negative impacts on the health and well-being of their children and in some cases place a burden of care on other relatives (including their children). There may also be negative impact on the communities in which they live through the crime and anti-social behaviour sometimes associated with substance misuse.
Recognition of the complex nature of issues related to substance misuse is crucial in order to gain an understanding of the problems faced by many people who misuse alcohol and drugs. Poverty, multiple adversities, poor housing, long term unemployment, family breakdown, poor mental health and emotional well-being and financial instability may be precipitating factors in substance misuse or may be consequential factors of the misuse trajectory.