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What is Substance Abuse Problem

It is important to note that substance abuse is actually different from addiction. People with substance abuse problems can quit or change their unhealthy behavior if they have not yet developed an addiction.

Navigation: What is Drug Abuse?, Substance Use Disorder: Prescription Medications, Alcohol Abuse, Other Commonly Abused Substances, What is Drug Addiction?, Signs of a Substance Use Problem: What to Watch Out for, What is Drug Dependence?, What is Drug Withdrawal Like?, Seek Addiction Treatment Today, Rehab Is Your Best Chance


Drug addiction is a complex medical condition that stems from drug misuse. However, there are a lot of factors that go into the development of substance use disorder (SUD) and drug addiction. In fact, this medical condition is often misunderstood and simply viewed as a moral failure. The truth is there are a lot of environmental and genetic factors that go into the development of addiction.

To those who are unaware about the true impact of addiction, they may see it as just someone being unable to quit a drug because they don’t have the willpower to do so. They think addicted people can just choose to stop whenever they want, when that is far from the case.

So in order to eliminate this stigma, it is important to discuss the substance abuse problem. Here we are going to talk about some of the most essential topics that you need to know about drug use, addiction, and all of its effects.


What is Drug Abuse?

Drug use refers to the misuse or abuse of illicit drugs or over-the-counter drugs for whatever reason. Some people take drugs in recreational settings to get high, socialize, and feel good for a little while. Some people misuse their prescriptions to deal with pain or stress. Some people take large doses of a certain drug by accident. In any case, taking drugs in excess is considered drug abuse whether it is a prescription drug or not. Both legal and illegal drugs can be abused.

Even prescription medications can be abused. Taking them in a way that you are not meant to is also classified as abuse. This means taking your meds too often or taking larger doses than prescribed can be considered drug abuse.

Substance abuse is an umbrella term that is commonly used to include alcohol use disorder (AUD) or alcoholism, along with drug abuse.

Substance abuse is not something to be taken lightly. Abusing these substances can lead to medical problems, mental health disorders, social problems, financial problems, and job-related problems.

It is important to note that substance abuse is actually different from addiction. People with substance abuse problems can quit or change their unhealthy behavior if they have not yet developed an addiction. On the other hand, addiction is a disease that prevents you from stopping even if you want to.


Substance Use Disorder: Prescription Medications

There is a misconception that prescription drugs are safe to abuse because they are given by doctors. But some of these drugs can be just as dangerous as illegal substances if you misuse them or take them recreationally. If you are given prescription medications, make sure you stick to your doctor’s prescription and follow their instructions carefully. If you experience side effects, tell your healthcare provider.

If you feel like the meds aren’t working, do not take an extra dose. Also avoid taking an extra dosage even if you accidentally skip one. Only take your medications exactly as they were intended.

Do not take medicine that is prescribed for someone else. At the same time, do not share your medications with anybody else, even if they have the same symptoms. Keep your prescription drugs stored in a safe location away from children and pets.

Commonly prescribed medications include opioid pain relievers, stimulants, anxiety medications, and sleep medications.

Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol is a widely used substance that is ever-present in social settings. While it’s okay to have a drink or two occasionally, it can quickly become a problem if you drink too much or too often.

The problem is that it can be difficult to tell apart someone who has a drinking problem and someone who is just drinking recreationally. But heavy drinking and binge drinking are often indicators of alcohol abuse. Doing so can cause liver problems and other serious health problems. It can even put you at risk of injury or accident.

There is also the possibility of developing an alcohol use disorder or alcohol addiction. For women, heavy drinking means having more than three drinks in a day or more than seven drinks a week. For men, drinking more than four drinks a day or more than 14 in a week is considered heavy drinking.

One drink refers to 12 ounces of beer; 8-9 ounces of malt liquor; 5 ounces of wine; or 1 and 1/2 ounces of vodka, whiskey, or other distilled spirits.

Other Commonly Abused Substances

Heroin is an illegal drug that is the natural version of opioid narcotics, which are synthetic prescription drugs. This illicit substance can give you a euphoric rush that is highly addictive. Once it wears off, the user experiences chills, nervousness, and nausea. They will also move and think more slowly. After taking heroin, they will have a strong urge to take it again.

Cocaine is another illicit substance that is commonly abused. After taking cocaine, the person begins to talk, think, and move much quicker than normal. This is because the drug speeds up the body, makes the user feel happy, and gives them energy. However, once it wears off the person may become angry, irrational, or paranoid. Prolonged abuse of cocaine will lead to strong cravings for the drug.

Other drugs that are commonly abused are marijuana, hallucinogens, cigarettes, and tobacco products.

What is Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction is characterized by the compulsive use of a certain substance even when the user is already experiencing its adverse effects. Also known as substance use disorder, this is a disease that affects the person’s brain and affects their behavior.

An addicted individual becomes unable to control their intake. Most of their days will revolve around obtaining the drug, taking it, and recovering from its effects.

The addicted person will slowly lose interest in the activities they used to enjoy. They will begin to neglect their responsibilities and get in trouble at work. They may encounter legal troubles or get into an accident.

Despite the drug’s physical and mental health effects, they will keep taking it. As time passes, the person develops a tolerance for the substance, which means they need to take more and more just to experience the same effect.

Proper drug addiction treatment is necessary to help someone struggling with drug addiction. Health care providers can give them the medical attention they need to recover from their condition.

Signs of a Substance Use Problem: What to Watch Out for

If you think someone you love is dealing with an addiction, you need to know what to watch out for.

They may lose interest in things they used to love and enjoy. They may spend less time with their old friends and spend more time with new friends who tolerate or encourage their substance abuse. Alternatively, they may be spending more time by themselves for no apparent reason.

They may become more secretive. Some people lie about their substance abuse habits, as well as where they are spending their time and who they are with.

Loved ones and family members are usually the first to notice these things. You will see that they have stopped taking care of themselves. You may notice other behavioral changes like eating more or less than normal. Their sleeping habits may change. They may also develop problems at work, which may lead to money problems, and so on.

What is Drug Dependence?

Drug dependence is when your body has adjusted to the constant presence of the substance that it can no longer function normally without it. People who are drug dependent will struggle to function on a day to day basis without taking their drug of choice.

Whenever they attempt to quit or even just reduce their drug intake, they experience intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms. This is what makes it difficult for addicted individuals to quit drugs. Their brain is telling them to keep taking it.

Interestingly, in the 2013 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the terms “dependence” and “abuse” were replaced with “substance use disorder”.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), around 22.7 million people in the US need treatment for their drug abuse or alcohol abuse problem. But unfortunately, some of the drugs that are used for drug addiction treatment can also cause substance use disorder. This is why proper treatment and medical supervision are necessary when dealing with drug addiction and dependence.

What is Drug Withdrawal Like?

Drug withdrawal is what happens when a drug dependent person suddenly reduces their intake or stops taking it altogether. This is the body’s reaction to the chemical changes caused by drug abuse and the sudden cessation of intake.

Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe, with some symptoms even reaching life-threatening levels. This is why quitting a drug cold turkey is not advisable. You have to go through proper medical detox to properly lower your intake under medical supervision.

Symptoms may vary depending on the drug taken and other factors like dosage and duration of substance abuse. Common withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, depression, nightmares, muscle weakness, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sweating.

Some people experience physical and psychological dependence, which means they crave for the drug and also think that they need it in order to function. These feelings are heightened during withdrawal. This is why a lot of people tend to relapse after quitting a substance.

During medical detox, the person’s drug or alcohol intake will be lowered gradually while their symptoms are managed by medical professionals. This is done in a safe and comfortable environment where patients can just focus on their recovery.

Seek Addiction Treatment Today

The good news is that there are plenty of treatment options out there that can help with all types of addiction and substance abuse problems. There are inpatient rehab centers, outpatient rehab centers, etc. There are also different treatment approaches used in rehab facilities such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and alternative treatment methods like experiential therapy, art therapy, music therapy, equine therapy, etc.

A personalized treatment approach always works best because everyone experiences addiction differently. People will have different symptoms, different triggers, and different motivations for wanting to get better.

Don’t wait to get help. Look for an addiction treatment facility near you today and learn about the different treatment options for substance use disorder, drug dependence, and addiction.

Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.


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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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