What is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse is characterized as when someone abuses psychoactive substances including alcohol and/or drugs. This often leads to dependence of the substance where cravings become uncontrollable.

What Are Some Common Signs Substance Abuse is Present?

Substance abuse affects different people in different ways depending on the substance and the individual. There are many common signs that are directly related to when a person becomes addicted to a substance though, and they may include:

  • Letting primary responsibilities slip through the cracks. Examples include: failure to complete school work leading to flunking or not attending work because you’re too hungover.
  • Financial and legal consequences are becoming a factor because of your substance abuse. Examples include: proven guilty of driving while under the influence, stealing to support your addiction, or getting into fights while under the influence.
  • Relationship problems are starting to arise due to your substance abuse. Relationships are beginning to become distant between you are your partner, family members, co-workers, etc. Often times the relationship will become mostly a common battle or lead to a total loss of the relationship.
  • Compulsive behaviors revolving around the substance. Examples include: stealing money, driving while intoxicated, having unprotected sex, etc.

There are other signs and symptoms of substance abuse, but these are some primary signs to be aware of.

How Quickly Can Substance Abuse Progress into Addiction or Dependence?

This common question is a hard one to answer. The reason being because there are so many factors that come into play when addiction becomes dominate. Family history or genetics is one primary factor that may determine if you can or will become addicted to substances. Those who have a history of addiction in their family are more likely to become addicted to substance after trying it. Whereas, someone without family history of addiction may take longer or more times using the substance before becoming addicted. It all depends on the drug, the person, their genetics, and their environment.

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What Affects Do Drugs and Alcohol Have on the Brain?

Long-term use of drugs or alcohol lead to severe side effects on your brain. When abusing substances, your brain produces higher amounts of dopamine than usual. Causing brief happiness and pleasure. If substances are used on a regular basis, they can cause the brain to react differently when lower levels of dopamine are present. It can cause you to feel depressed and inability to enjoy certain activities or things that once mattered. Basically you have to be “high” to enjoy things that you used to be able to enjoy without being high.

Is There a Cure for Addiction?

Since addiction is considered a disease, many wonder if it is curable like other diseases with medication. The answer is there is no real cure for addiction, but it is treatable. By receiving treatment for alcohol or drug addiction, you learn the coping mechanisms necessary to learn how to deal with any triggers that might come your way causing you to use again. With individualized treatment, you get the right treatment based off your needs and addiction. When achieving abstinence from substances, your brain can reverse your cravings for substances.

How Do You Know If You’re Dependent on a Substance?

When you’re prescribed a certain drug for a long period of time, it’s no surprise that your body and brain become physically dependent on the substance. When this happens, your body will need higher amounts of the drug to prevent withdrawal symptoms from occurring. When your body isn’t receiving a high enough amount of the substance, you will start to have withdrawal symptoms. That’s when you know you’re dependent on a drug.

What Are Some Treatments Used for Substance Abuse?

We use a variety of techniques to treat substance abuse including: behavioral therapies, group and individual therapy, medication management, psychological evaluations, family counseling, and more. Each treatment plan we create is tailored to you and your addiction. We focus on educating you on how to cope with your addiction triggers. The goal of substance abuse treatment is improve mental and physical health re-gaining control in day to day life.

What Are the Next Steps If I, or Someone I Love, is Struggling with Addiction?

Remember, addiction is a treatable disease. Just like someone who has to take medication to alleviate disease symptoms, addiction needs to be treated to alleviate symptoms with medication and/or on-going therapy. Don’t wait to seek help. We offer a 24 hour help line where you can call at any time for questions or to begin your journey of addiction recovery.

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