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Substance Abuse-The Basics

Jun 1, 2019


Substance Abuse-The Basics

Some people use substances for recreation or for the treatment of certain conditions, yet as they do so, they do not become addicted to them.

Others do become emotionally and physically dependent on these substances. Substance abuse occurs because of a combination of factors. Once addiction takes hold of a person, professional support is usually required to  be available to overcome it.

Types of Substance Disorder

1. Drug Use Disorder. Also known as drug addiction, this disorder involves the illegal use of prescription medications, prohibited drugs, or both. These drugs include inhalants, cocaine, steroids, heroin, benzodiazepines, and methamphetamines, which are all extremely addictive. These substances change how the brain functions, providing euphoric effects. Because of this, the user disregards the harm these substances do to their lives. Here are the signs of this disorder:
• Neglected appearance and hygiene
• Missing valuables
• Difficulty speaking
• Drastic and abrupt behavioral changes
• Rapid weight loss
• Recurrent absences
• Lack of motivation or energy

2. Alcohol use disorder. More often than not, alcohol is the most abused type of substance in the United States. One out of twelve Americans suffer from the crippling effects of alcoholism or alcohol use disorder. Those who suffer from this condition show overwhelming alcohol use, exhibit withdrawal symptoms when they don’t drink, and lose control over the quantity and even the quality  of alcohol they consume.

Some signs of this disorder are:

• Short-term memory loss
• Blackouts
• Severe mood swings or irritability
• Drinking in secret or in seclusion
• Always creating excuses for drinking such as stress or the need to relax
• Neglecting responsibilities
• Isolation from family and friends
• Lying about the quantity of alcohol taken

What Causes Substance Use Disorders?

The primary root of substance use disorders is still unnamed. Many believe that 40 to 60% of an individual’s risk is brought about by genetics. The use of substances starts as a means to feel euphoric. Perhaps it is just an activity developed from satisfying one’s curiosity. The increase in tolerance and the repetitive use of the substance leads to the disorder and the addiction. Some users who tend to nurture substance use disorder usually have an associated mental condition like bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. These people start to drink alcohol and take drugs to cope.

Here are other factors, which may build up to substance use disorder:
• Issues with relationships
• Addiction in the family
• Absence of parental attachment during childhood
• Inadequate sleep
• Stressful environment in the home
• Chronic pain
• Long-term smoking
• Financial trials
• Loss of a loved one (divorce or death)

Diagnosis and Treatment

Below are the basic means to diagnose substance use disorder:
• Assessment performed by a licensed psychologist, licensed drug and alcohol counselor, or a psychiatrist
• Assessing with the use of DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) published by the American Psychiatric Association.
• Lab tests (urine and blood) [for monitoring and recovery]
Treating substance use disorders involves the following:
1. Treatment programs for chemical dependence
• Varied levels and settings of care
• Family, individual, or group therapy
• Understanding addiction
2. Detoxification or withdrawal therapy
3. Self Help groups
4. Behavior therapy
5. Naloxone dosage through an injection device (Evzio) or a nasal spray (Narcan)

It is best to ask your healthcare provider and psychiatrist about substance use disorder. This way, they can help monitor your progress during the execution of your treatment plan. Addiction to substances will always be a constant for those who have no guidance or helping hand during their lowest moments.

Make sure you or the person you know acquire the help necessary to fight or even prevent this condition.

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