Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse, is a patterned use of a substance, (drug) in which the user consumes the substance in amounts or with methods which are harmful to themselves or others. Some of the drugs most often associated with this term include alcohol, substituted amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, methaqualone, and opioids. Use of these drugs may lead to criminal penalty in addition to possible physical, social and psychological harm. Long term personality changes in individuals may occur as well.
Drug misuse is a term used commonly when prescription medications with sedative, anxiolytic analgesic, or stimulant properties are used for mood alteration or intoxication ignoring the fact that overdoses of such medicines has serious adverse effects.
The rate of prescription drug abuse is fast overtaking drug abuse in the United States. According to the National institute of Drug Abuse, 7 million people were taking prescriptions drugs for nonmedical use in 2010. Among 12 graders, prescription drugs misuse is now second only to marijuana.
Avenues of obtaining prescription drugs for misuse are varied: sharing between family and friends, illegally buying medications at school or work, and often “doctor shopping” to find multiple physicians to prescribe the same medication, without knowledge of other prescribers.
Drug abuse including alcohol may lead to health problems, social problems, morbidity, injuries, unprotected sex, violence, deaths motor vehicle accidents, homicides, suicides, physicals dependence or psychological addiction.
There is a high rate of suicide among alcoholics and other drug abusers. The increased risk is caused by the long term abuse of alcohol and other drugs causing physiological distortion of brain chemistry as well as social isolation. The intoxicating effects of the drugs may make suicide more likely to occur. Alcohol abuse is also associated with increased risks of committing criminal offences including child abuse, domestic violence, rapes, burglaries and assaults.
Drug abuse, including alcohol and prescription drugs, can induce symptomology which resembles mental illness. This can occur in intoxicated state and also during withdrawal state. In some cases these substance abuse induced psychiatric disorders can persist long after detoxification, such as prolonged psychosis or depression after –amphetamine or cocaine use. Severe anxiety and depression are commonly induced by sustained alcohol abuse which in most cases abates with prolonged abstinence. Even moderate alcohol sustained use may increase anxiety and depression levels in some individuals. In most cases these drug induced psychiatric disorders fade away with prolonged abstinence.
Treatment for substance abuse is critical but formal intervention is necessary to convince the substance abuser to submit to any form of treatment. Behavioral interventions and medications exist that have helped many people reduce, or discontinue, their substance abuse.
Alcohol Anonymous is one of the most widely known self-help organizations in which members support each other not to use alcohol.
Social skills are significantly impaired in people suffering from alcoholism due to the neurotoxic effects of alcohol on the brain. It has been suggested that social skills training adjunctive to impatient treatment of alcohol dependence is probably effective including managing the social environment.
A number of medications have been approved for the treatment of substance abuse. These include replacement therapies such as buprenorphine and methadone
Availability of services is a problem for many, especially if you do not have insurance.
Support of family and friends is important for individuals who are overcoming the addiction to some kind of drug.
For more information visit www.mentalhealthamerica.net.