Discussing Substance Abuse in Spanish

Discussing Substance Abuse in Spanish

Substance abuse in Spanish

In today’s lesson, we’re addressing topic #3 from the mental health survey that our community members asked to learn about: addiction & substance abuse in Spanish.

Here is the Discussing Substance Abuse in Spanish lesson that I taught on YouTube and to our Facebook group:

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As we learn to talk about addiction and substance abuse in Spanish, we will focus on the following:

  1. Questions about substance use
  2. Physical signs and symptoms of substance abuse
  3. Behavioral signs and symptoms of substance abuse
  4. A model for stages of change
  5. Therapies for substance abuse
  6. Medications for substance abuse

Preguntas sobre el uso de sustancias – Questions About Substance Use

In this section, you will learn how to make some questions regarding the use of the most common abused substances in the US, specifically:

  1. Alcohol
  2. Tabaco / Tobacco
  3. Otras drogas:
    • Marijuana
    • Analgésicos, calmantes / Painkillers
    • Cocaína / Cocaine
    • Heroina / Heroin
    • LSD (ácido lisérgico)
    • Metanfetaminas – Meth

El uso de tabaco – Tobacco Use

Let’s start with some vocabulary and then we dive deeper into the questions:


  • Cigarro / Cigar
  • Cigarrillo / Cigarette
  • Paquete o Cajetilla / A pack
  • Fumar / To smoke
  • Mascar / To chew
  • Vapear / To vape
  • ¿Alguna vez ha usado tabaco? / Have you ever used tobacco?
  • ¿Cuánto usa en un día normal? / How much do you use on a normal day?
  • ¿Fuma cigarrillos (electrónicos)? / Do you smoke (E-) cigarettes?
  • ¿Cuántas cajetillas fuma por día? / How many packs do you smoke per day?
  • ¿Vapea? / Do you vape?
  • ¿Cuántos cartuchos vapea por día? / How many cartridges do you vape per day?
  • ¿Fuma puros? / Do you smoke cigars?
  • ¿Usa tabaco de mascar? – Do you use chewing tobacco?

El uso del alcohol – Alcohol Use


  • Cerveza / Beer
  • Licor / Hard alcohol
  • Vino / Wine
  • Tragos / Drinks
  • Copas / Glass of…
  • Tomar / Drink
  • Consumir / Consume
  • Estar borracho(a) / To be drunk
  • Estar tomado(a) / To be drunk

  • ¿Aproximadamente cuántos tragos toma en una semana? / Approximately, how many drinks you drink per week?
  • En el último año, ¿ha tomado más de lo debido? / In the past year, have you drink more than you should have?
  • ¿Ha pensado en disminuir el consumo de alcohol? / Have you thought about reducing your alcohol consumption?
  • ¿Alguna vez se ha molestado cuando le han dicho de su uso de alcohol? / Have you ever got annoyed when someone has commented about your alcohol use?
  • ¿Se siente culpable por la cantidad de alcohol que usa? / Do you feel guilty about the amount of alcohol that you use?
  • ¿Se ha levantado tomándose un trago para empezar el día? / Have you gotten up with a drink to start your day?

El uso de drogas – Drug Use


  • Drogas de la calle / Street drug
  • Inhalar / Inhale
  • Inyectarse / To inject
  • Jeringas / Syringes
  • Agujas / Needles
  • Pastillas / Pills
  • Sobredosis / Overdose
  • Estar drogado(a) / To be high
  • ¿Con qué frecuencia usa drogas? / How often do you use drugs?
  • ¿Cada cuánto usa drogas? / How often do you use drugs?
  • ¿Usa marijuana? ¿En qué forma? / Do you use marijuana? In what way?
  • En el último año ¿ha usado drogas más de lo debido? / In the past year, have you used more drugs than you should have?
  • ¿Ha pensado en disminuir el consumo de drogas? / Have you thought about reducing your drug consumption?
  • ¿Alguna vez se ha molestado cuando le han dicho de su uso de drogas? / Have you ever got annoyed when someone has commented about your drug use?
  • ¿Se siente culpable de la cantidad de drogas que usa? / Do you feel guilty about the amount of drugs that you use?

Ahora hablemos de síntomas – Now let’s talk about symptoms

Síntomas físicos – Physical Symptoms

Incapacidad de dormir y/o estar despierto en momentos extrañosInability to sleep and/or keeping strange waking hours
Cambios en apetito (más o menos), o hábitos alimenticiosChanges in appetite (more or less), or eating habits
Manos temblorosas, palmas fríasShaking hands, cold sweating palms
Ojos rojos, acuosos, pupilas grandes o pequeñasRed, watery eyes; large or small pupils
Olores extraños (aliento, cuerpo, ropa)Strange odors (breath, body, clothing)
Caminar despacio, marcha inestableWalking slowly, unsteady gait
Pulso irregularIrregular pulse
Cara hinchada, rubor, estar pálidoSwollen face, flushing, looking pale
Deterioro general de la higiene y/o salud físicaGeneral deterioration of hygiene and/or physical health
Retorcer la mandíbula de un lado para otroTwisting the jaw from one side to the other
Marcas de agujasNeedle marks

Síntomas conductuales – Behavioral Symptoms

Cambios en la actitud o personalidadChanges in attitude or personality
Menos rendimiento (desempeño) escolar (profesional)Less school (professional) performance
Cambios en las actividades y pasatiemposChanges in activities and hobbies
Dificultad para prestar atención, enfocarseDifficulty paying attention, focusing
Falta de motivación, energía, auto-estimaLack of motivation, energy, self-esteem
Irritabilidad, nervios, cambios en el ánimoIrritability, nervousness, mood swings
Conducta secreta, sospechosaSecret, suspicious behavior
Necesidad de dinero, robar dineroNeed for money, steal money

¡Gracias POR compartir su aventura de español conmigo!

Su tarea – Your Homework

  1. Review the notes & vocabulary
  2. Identify additional points and topics to discuss with patients
    • Let me know if you need help 🙂
  3. Remember to keep it simple if you need to
  4. Ask for help in the comments below
  5. Give it a try with your patients!

Now it’s your turn! I packaged all of this vocabulary in Spanish into some flashcards for you to study.

Keep up the good work speaking responsible Spanish to your patients! Check out our other books, classes & products to help you learn medical Spanish!

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Other posts in this Mental Health series:

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