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Drug abuse most often refers to the use of drugs with such frequency that it causes physical or mental harm to the user and impairs social functioning, according to the definition stated in "Software Toolworks Encyclopedia". This term also refers to the use of a drug prohibited by the law, regardless of whether it was actually harmful or not. Although the term seems to imply that users abuse the drug they take, in fact, it is themselves or others they abuse by using it. Therefore, the preferred term ought to be "self abuse". Since there are lots of individuals who associate the term drug abuse with what the law principles are, and what potential punishment will be applied for not complying with principles of such law those individuals should be able to recognize differences in the meaning of a common term. In order to ease such recognition let's make a shift in terms and distinguish between them.
A person voluntarily commits to use any prohibited by law drug. Despite the consequences of such action, the person continues using it. Eventually, some type of physical or mental harm occurs within that person's body, thus, the occurrence of changes in health is the result of one's free choice. Any of the above stages can be easily applied into mother-child scenario.
If a mother becomes, at some point, totally drug addicted, she can no longer control her actions, psychological stage of mind, etc. She can no longer be in a position of making the right choices and decisions, and of course, she will not be in a position to recognize and face the reality. The only choice such mother could make would be dictated by her addicted mind, and most likely would have nothing to do with reality. In the mean time, her child will have to face a tremendous emotional difficulties, as well as experience psychological imbalance and inability to deal with an adult-level, real life situations.
Consequently, the mother's inability to deal with the addiction will have a tragic impact on her child's future development and well-being. Such drastic changes would be the abuse that took place as a result of mother's free choice. The tool used to create the abuse was the drug, and the user contributed to the results of his/her own free action. Since the drug itself did not forced the user to be taken, only, it was the user's free choice, it does show that the user abused himself or herself and others -not the drug, thus, this scene clearly presents self abuse.
In a doctor-patient scenario the situation is very common. Although the term "self abuse" would not quite fit in all cases, still, it's hard to admit that the term "drug abuse" would. Imagine the doctor prescribing a drug to his patient, for some type of a relief, to the point where it creates irreversible harm. Assuming that the doctor knew how harmful for his patient the drug eventually would be, he consciously continues to prescribe such drug. Therefore, the doctor contributes to the abuse and harm of his patient. Thus, the patient becomes abused by the doctor, not by the drug.
Again, there is no abuse to the particular drug. The drug is just a tool, in may ways very harmful, used by doctors or ordinary people.
Since the term drug is commonly associated with substances that influence or alter the working process of mind, by affecting moods, emotions, feelings, and thinking process, and influence health in general, it's fair to say that such substances are powerful yet harmful tools. Despite whether they were taken freely, that is with full understanding of ultimate results, or prescribed by doctor with, most likely, full understanding, somewhere on the line the abuse occurs. The independent user and a doctor contribute at some point to the harm eventually created. Assuming that the drug was a tool for developing such results, the doctor contributed to the patient's abuse, and the independent user abused himself/herself. No matter what the relationship is, user/drug or doctor-patient/drug, the drug is the only one that never gets to be abused. It is people abused by themselves or by others. Therefore, "self abuse" seems to be more adequate term to use.