Substance Abuse

Substance abuse refers to the harmful use of psychoactive substances. This includes alcohol and illicit drugs. TRICARE offers a number of resources for substance abuse. For specific guidance and information, see the below pages:

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease. It causes compulsive substance seeking and use. This happens despite harmful consequences to you and to those around you. The initial decision to abuse substances may be voluntary. But the brain changes over time. It challenges self-control and your ability to resist intense impulses to use substances.


There are many substances which are abused. They all can have dangerous health implications. Many drugs are illegal. But even some legal drugs can be bad for you if you don’t take them correctly.


Scientific research has shown treatment can help drug-addicted individuals:

  • Stop drug use.
  • Avoid relapse.
  • Successfully recover their lives.

Principles of Drug Addiction Treatments

Scientific research has shown treatment can help you stop drug use, avoid relapse, and successfully recover your life. Based on this research*, there are 13 fundamental principles for effective drug abuse treatment.
* The National Institute on Drug Abuse's Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide

Getting Help

Your friends and family may be among the first to recognize the signs of substance abuse. Early recognition increases chances for success. >>Learn more.

Last Updated 12/21/2022