A Concept Analysis of Substance Misuse to Inform Contemporary Terminology

Khadejah F. Mahmoud, Deborah S. Finnell, Christine L. Savage, Kathryn R. Puskar, Ann M. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Previous diagnostic categories of substance abuse and dependence have given way to the current view that substance use disorders occur on a continuum with a broad range of severity. This current view is featured in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM V). In recognizing the role of stigma in preventing persons from seeking substance use treatment, advocates have called attention that particular terminology can fuel such stigma. To mitigate the negative effects of such stigmatizing language, the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (ISAJE) recommends against using previously-used and possibly pejorative terminology for substance abuse and dependence, unless a particular scientific justification exists. The purpose of this paper is to: (1) present a concept analysis of the term substance misuse and (2) recommend an alternate term for substance misuse that is neither pejorative nor inadvertently stigmatizing: at-risk substance use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalArchives of Psychiatric Nursing
StateAccepted/In press - 2017


  • At-risk use
  • Concept analysis
  • Misuse
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health


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