I decided to find out how “substance abuse” is defined in some of the world’s most popular languages.
Method: Google Translator.
I went to Google Translator and entered the term substance abuse for each language featured. I then grabbed the translated term and entered it into Google’s search engine. Granted, a translation of any kind has its faults, and even then I had to do some editing to make grammatical sense in English.
I had some difficulty with Arabic and Japanese, so unfortunately they are not included. However, it was quite interesting to see what came up for the languages that were accessible. The term for substance abuse is in parenthesis following the language. The English definition can be found here.
Substance abuse definition: Frequent and prolonged alcohol or drugs despite the problems it causes. This may include problems with the fulfillment of responsibilities at school, at work or at home. ‘Addiction’ and ‘dependence’ goes a step further; the person is physically or psychologically dependent on alcohol or drugs. Substance abuse often begins with experimental use of such as alcohol, tobacco or cannabis.
Comments: Interesting that alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are implied to be gateway drugs, often the choice of first time users.
Chinese (物質濫用 or Wùzhí lànyòng)
Substance Abuse Definition: A mental illness term, meaning excessive use of certain substances (a drug), or may harm themselves or others in attempt to use. When the situation is serious enough for the drug to gain individual psychological or physical dependence resulting in tolerance and withdrawal symptoms, it is called substance dependence.
Comments: Very simple – “excessive use of substances.”
Russian (злоупотребление алкоголем или наркотиками or zloupotrebleniye alkogolem ili narkotikami)
A set of disease states characterized by building tolerance to drugs and other substances which are not in accordance with the United Nations Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961). Characterized by chronic intoxication, presence of syndromes of mental and/or physical dependence.
Comments: Curious to find out what are “not in accordance with the UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs. If you’d like to know more, check out the link.
Spanish (abuso de substancias)
Substance abuse definition: A pattern of substance use (drugs) leading to significant problems or distress such as truancy, drug use in dangerous situations (driving a car), legal problems, or continued use of a substance that interferes with family relationships or with friends. As a disorder, it refers to the abuse of illegal substances or excessive use of legal substances.
Comments: Not surprisingly, similar to English.
Hindi (मादक द्रव्यों के सेवन परिभाषा or Mādaka dravyōṁ kē sēvana paribhāṣā)
Substance abuse definition: The use of the substance is a maladaptive pattern that does not indicate dependence. Implies a negative judgment of the drug use in question. Opioids are included. In addition to possible physical, social, and psychological damage, use of these drugs, depending on local jurisdiction, may incur criminal penalties.
Comments: Interesting that is specifically states “opiods are included”.
If you suspect that you or someone you know is engaging in substance abuse, please seek help immediately.