Substance and abuse is a complex area mainly because of the diverse ways it affects peoples’ lives. There is no stereotypical addict. Indeed, these days we are seeing an alarming rise in people becoming dependent on prescription medications that are initially taken under the guidance of a physician.
Because of the changing demographics of addiction and its increasing spread across America, Elevate Addiction Services feel it important to re-educate people on the definition of substance abuse. In the past, the risk of addiction may have been contained within certain environments and among individuals commonly abusing alcohol or drugs.
A frightening fact of modern-day life is that now more people than ever are becoming addicted to drugs without any idea of how it happened. Individuals prescribed powerful opioids for pain relief can all-too-easily develop dependency from the moment they start using their medications unless they are fully aware of the risks.
The way addiction has evolved since the introduction of opioid-based painkillers has led to an increase in alcohol and drug abuse rehab resources, with around 15,000 drug abuse rehabilitation centers dealing with substance abuse across the country. Modern addiction specialists are increasingly helping patients who did not choose to use drugs for recreational reasons, with much more complex issues to address in order for them to overcome their illness.
In this article, we take a closer look at the definition of substance abuse, how it is diagnosed and the ways in which it can be successfully treated.
The Medical Definition of Substance Abuse
Although there is no universally accepted definition of substance abuse, it is generally classified as persistent and excessive use of alcohol or drugs. There are some who believe that abusing an illegal drug even once should be considered abusive behavior.
If an individual experiences any of the following, they may have a substance use disorder:
- Increasingly frequent blackouts or short-term memory loss
- Mood swings, irritability, frustration, rage, depression, anxiety
- Repeated confrontation or arguments with loved ones
- Using substances to cope with stress or relationship problems
- Physical symptoms such as cravings or withdrawal as a result of substance use
- Using progressively higher doses to achieve the desired effects
- Becoming unreliable at home or work and neglecting responsibilities
- Changes in personality as obtaining/using substances becomes a preoccupation
The Symptoms and Signs of Drug Use Disorder
Although the above signs indicate a person has problems with drugs or alcohol, if an individual exhibits two or more of the following symptoms in the same 12-month period, they are likely to have developed a substance use disorder:
- The individual is persistently unreliable and unable to meet important responsibilities due to substance use
- Risk-taking behavior including DUIs, sharing needles and casual sexual encounters
- Legal problems resulting from misdemeanors committed while obtaining and using illegal drugs
- Continued substance use despite the potentially devastating consequences on the individual’s life
- A developed tolerance to the abused substance that manifests itself with cravings and withdrawal symptoms which increase in intensity over time
- Larger doses of the abused substance are used or over a longer period than intended
- The individual is completely preoccupied with obtaining and using drugs at the expense of eating a healthy diet and achieving a regular sleeping pattern
- Individuals withdraw from those close to them the more severe their addiction becomes and they stop engaging in activities they used to enjoy
- The individual continues to use even when their physical or psychological health is suffering
Treatment for Substance Abuse
At Elevate Addiction Services, we use the holistic approach to treating substance use disorder. This is considered to be particularly effective as it addresses physical, emotional and psychological problems at the same time. Holistic techniques, practices, and therapies are used at our drug abuse rehabilitation centers that are designed to treat the individual as a whole. Because addiction affects a person’s entire being, this method of natural healing has been shown to be particularly effective when used in combination with evidence-based therapies.
Some of the holistic drug abuse rehab treatments and therapies available at Elevate alcohol and drug abuse treatment centers include:
- Music & Art therapy
- Massage therapy
- Adventure therapy
- Physical fitness
- Nutritional awareness
Evidence-based therapies include cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. Elevate offers components of CBT as part of a substance abuse program as it provides a measurable framework for a patient’s progress through drug abuse rehabilitation. The objective of CBT is to identify the thought processes and emotions that drive addictive behavior in the individual so that they can make positive changes for healthier responses to stressors in recovery.
There is no cure for substance use disorder, although, with the right alcohol and drug abuse rehab, it is very possible to live a healthy and fulfilling life in recovery and without substances. The most important consideration when choosing a drug abuse treatment center should be the individual’s needs and there are plenty of resources to help.
It is also important to bear in mind that not everyone chooses to seek drug or alcohol abuse rehab. Individuals can be in denial they have a problem, confrontational whenever challenged on their drug or alcohol use. In many cases, it is down to the loved ones of an addicted person to intervene and urge them to seek help and so it helps to know exactly what to look out for.
Long-term recovery from addiction is much easier to achieve if the illness is caught in the early stages. Unfortunately, the way the addiction landscape is at the moment, it is down to everyone to be vigilant for the warning signs an individual has a problem with substance use that requires drug or alcohol abuse rehab.