Substance abuse has been present throughout human history, with evidence of drug and alcohol use dating back thousands of years. However, the modern understanding of substance abuse as a medical and social issue began to emerge in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In the late 19th century, the first laws regulating the sale and use of opiates and other drugs were passed, and addiction began to be recognized as a medical condition. In the mid-20th century, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was founded, providing a model for the treatment of alcohol addiction that has since been adapted for other types of substance abuse.

Today, substance abuse is recognized as a major public health issue, and research continues to explore the underlying causes and effective treatments for substance abuse disorders. Substance abuse can have a significant impact on individuals, families, and communities, and it is important to continue efforts to prevent and address substance abuse in a comprehensive and compassionate manner.