What Is the Definition of a Substance Use Disorder?
The Mayo Clinic defines substance abuse disorder as a disease that impacts individuals’ brains and prevents them from controlling their medication or drug use. Substance abuse disorders can involve legal drugs (alcohol) and illegal drugs (cocaine). Many addicts develop a substance abuse disorder through experimental drug use that becomes a habit. Others may develop an addiction after receiving a prescription drug from a doctor, such as oxycodone and morphine.
What Is the Difference between Substance Abuse and Substance Abuse Disorder?
Many individuals use substance abuse and substance abuse disorder interchangeably. Substance abuse disorder describes the condition in which a person depends on one or more substances. In other words, the individual is battling with addiction. Substance abuse is a term used to describe a pattern of drug and alcohol use. Thus, substance abuse and substance abuse disorder are nearly identical terms. However, many health organizations will use the word “substance abuse disorder.”
Psychological vs. Physiological Dependence
There’s both a psychological and physiological component to virtually every addiction. Psychological dependence describes the way an addict behaves. For example, someone who has a heroin addiction may continue to use the drug, even if they already overdosed in the past. The person is willing to take on the risks if it means they can get high. Someone battling psychological dependence typically can’t stop using substances without professional intervention.
Physiological dependence, on the other hand, characterizes the physical effects of addiction. Many addicts who stop using their drug of choice suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms, such as trembling, depression, seizures, and high blood pressure. The individual eventually caves in and reuses because the physical symptoms of their dependency become overpowering.
Understanding Polysubstance Abuse
The term polysubstance abuse refers to the act of taking multiple drugs at once. While using multiple drugs at once may enhance the euphoric feelings, it also increases the risk of adverse side effects. For instance, many individuals mix benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, etc.) with alcohol for a more sedative and calming effect. Unfortunately, many people mix drugs when they’re already under the influence and don’t think about the potential side effects.
Signs of Addiction
The signs of addiction can vary significantly depending on the drug you use. Nonetheless, many addicts share many of the same telltale drug and alcohol abuse symptoms:
- Deteriorating performance at school and work
- Borrowing or stealing money frequently to pay for drugs and alcohol
- Losing interest in hobbies and becoming more reclusive
- Changes in sleeping habits (i.e., sleeping less or more than usual)
- The inability to set limits to control your behavior
- Constantly thinking about your drug of choice
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you can’t get your hands on drugs or alcohol
- Day-to-day life, such as cleaning and showering, becomes a chore
Who Is Vulnerable to Substance Abuse Disorder?
Substance abuse disorder doesn’t discriminate – all ages, ethnicities, and social statuses are at risk. However, specific populations have higher instances of drug abuse:
- Communities that lack economic opportunity
- Individuals who live in high-crime areas
- Communities without protective factors, such as church and school programs
- Populations that face societal barriers due to their race
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
The Long-Term Side Effects of Drug Abuse
Substance abuse disorders can cause irreversible side effects, such as permanent brain damage. Therefore, it’s essential to seek substance abuse treatment as soon as possible if you’re suffering from addiction. You should also be mindful of your friends and family, as they might be battling the same demons.
The long-term side effects of drug abuse include:
- Liver disease
- Spread of infectious disease
- Broken families and relationships
- Heart disease
- Involvement in crime related to drugs
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) in babies
Source: Surgeon General
The Most Commonly Abused Drugs in the United States
There’s no doubt that drug usage in the United States has evolved throughout the last few decades. However, the influx of synthetic drugs has led to increased overdose deaths in recent years. Here’s a look at some of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States:
- Prescription opioids
- Synthetic cannabinoids (K2)
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse
Drug Addiction Treatment Options
- Substance abuse detox programs: Detox is the first step of the recovery process where you flush toxins from your body and mitigate withdrawal symptoms…learn more
- Inpatient residential treatment: Recovering addicts receive tailored care while living at our luxury drug and alcohol rehabilitation center…learn more.
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP): Clients receive the same level of care as our inpatient residential treatment program but return home each day…learn more
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP): This program allows individuals to stay at home while receiving substance abuse treatment from our skilled professionals…learn more
- Sober Living: We have three luxurious sober-living residences where recovering addicts can reside if they want continued support before transitioning back to everyday life…learn more.
- Alumni Program: Our alumni program is the backbone of our community and helps keep our staff and graduates connected….learn more.