Substance abuse occurs when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically and functionally significant impairment.
What is Addiction?
Strangely, the question is more complicated than it sounds, so let’s break it down into sections. Using any mind-altering substance, whether legal, prescribed or illegal to an extent where it is having a negative impact on your physical or mental health, work, family circumstances or relationships is considered to be addictive behavior and you might want to think about getting some help.
People don’t suddenly become addicts. Very often it is a gradual process. What starts off as a Friday and Saturday night session can creep into Sunday and Monday, especially if there other problems going on that are making life difficult.
What do you mean?
Most people think of addiction as meaning ‘physical addiction.’ This is where you suffer from medically defined withdrawal symptoms if you do not take your substance of choice at regular intervals.
Impaired coordination, sudden weight loss, legal trouble, neglected responsibilities. These are just a few of the many signs a loved one could be struggling with a substance use disorder. Substance abuse occurs when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically and functionally significant impairment. While substance use disorders are serious, they’re also treatable with the help of Mallard Lake Detox.
Types of Substance Use Disorders:
There are two main types of substance use disorders: alcohol use disorder and drug use disorder. Some people abuse both substances, while others are addicted to one or the other.
Alcohol use disorder
Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in America. More than 17 million people, one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse and its debilitating effects. People with alcohol use disorder, or alcoholism, exhibit compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over how much alcohol they consume, and experience withdrawal symptoms when they are not drinking. Binge drinking (consuming a high amount of alcohol in a single day) and heavy drinking (consuming high amounts of alcohol several times per month) are two types of problem drinking that often lead to alcohol addiction. Signs of alcohol use disorder include:
- Irritability and extreme mood swings
- Making excuses for drinking, such as to relax or deal with stress
- Becoming isolated from friends and family
- Lying about how much alcohol is consumed
- Neglecting responsibilities at work, home, or school
- Drinking alone or in secrecy
- Experiencing black-outs or short-term memory loss
Drug use disorder
Also referred to as a drug addiction, drug use disorder can include illegal drugs, prescription medications, or a combination. Cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, benzodiazepines, steroids, and inhalants are all highly addictive and can lead to a substance use disorder very quickly. Because drugs change how the brain is wired and interfere with its natural reward system, people with a drug use disorder continue using despite the harm caused to their health, relationships, and careers. Signs of a drug use disorder include:
- Missing money or valuables
- Drastic changes in behavior
- Frequently absent from school or work
- Lack of energy and motivation
- Sudden weight loss
- Difficulty speaking
- Neglected hygiene and appearance
Causes of Substance Use Disorders
The cause of substance use disorders is still unknown, though genetics are thought to account for 40% to 60% of a person’s risk. Substance use often starts as a way to feel good or out of curiosity in childhood or early adolescence. Repeated use of the substance and increased tolerance pave the way to substance use disorder and addiction. Some adults who develop a substance use disorder have a co-occurring mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, or bi-polar disorder, and begin using drugs or alcohol to cope with their symptoms. Other risk factors that may lead to a substance use disorder include:
- Family history of addiction
- Sleep problems
- Chronic pain
- Financial difficulties
- Divorce or the loss of a loved one
- Long-term tobacco habit
- Tense home environment
- Lack of parental attachment in childhood
- Relationship issues
Of course, none of these risk factors guarantees that a person will develop a substance abuse disorder, but a combination of factors plus repeated substance use significantly increase the likelihood of addiction.
Is your loved one struggling with substance abuse? Help is available. It can be very difficult to know how to help people who take drugs, especially if they are addicted. If they have severe problems, the reality may be that there is a limit to the amount of support you can give them and how much you can get them to change. However, there are some things you can do that might be helpful.
Encourage them to seek help
This can be difficult, particularly if they are seeking help for the first time. They may be worried about being judged for their drug use, or concerned about what will happen if the drugs they use are illegal. You can:
- Reassure them that it is OK to seek help
- Help them decide where to go for support
Support them to use services
- Help them find out what services are available locally
- Go with them if they would like you to (especially for a first visit)
- Support them to make the most of the services they are using
If the support offered is not helpful, or they are reluctant to attend, you may be asked to attend meetings with their support workers and doctors to help both you and they provide the most suitable care.
NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines suggest that if you are involved in your friend or relative’s care in this way, they should be shown a copy of the record of the meetings and what you have said.
Encourage them to carry on with treatment
If your friend or relative is taking part in a drug treatment program or receiving a talking treatment, you may be able to encourage them to:
- Stick to their treatment plan
- Go to appointments
- Meet their targets
Spend positive time with them
It can greatly help your friend or relative if you:
- Be there for them
- Be honest with them
- Listen to them if they want to talk
- Spend time together, perhaps joining in with activities they enjoy
It can be very difficult to try to support someone whose problems are associated with their use of recreational drugs or alcohol. More than 20 million Americans suffer from a chemical dependency on drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of those who need treatment actually seek help. At Mallard Lake Detox, we understand the challenges and stigma associated with substance use disorders and work diligently to provide effective, evidence-based treatment to the patients who entrust us with their care.