Defining Substance Abuse and Dependency


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Substance abuse is defined as a pattern of drug or alcohol use that leads to undesirable outcomes. It results in problems with your relationships, work/school, and potentially severe damage to your body.

Defining Substance Abuse and Dependency

On the other hand, substance dependency is the physical and psychological reliance on drugs and alcohol. Being dependent on a dangerous substance can harm many people, aside from the one taking it. They cannot stop using such substances, and they always experience intense cravings.

Substance abuse is diagnosed by a family doctor, psychiatrist, or qualified mental health professional. After the patient undergoes drug and alcohol testing, the professional checks for abnormalities. They will then prescribe the proper treatment based on the findings, including detoxification, meetings, therapy, and continued medical supervision.

Why People Abuse and Depend on Substances

• They Make People Feel Better

Many drugs help produce dopamine and give the user a lot of satisfaction. There are drugs like cocaine that provide you with energy and make you feel like you can conquer anything. Other drugs like heroin make you feel calm and relaxed.

There are people with mental health illnesses who abuse dangerous substances. They use drugs to feel less anxious and feel better about themselves.

• They Give People Better Performance

Other people use drugs and other substances as performance enhancers. Some use prescription medicine and even cocaine to increase their focus in school, work, and sports.

• They Give People A Sense of Belonging

This is common for teenagers. They feel pressure to try these substances because their friends are also using them. Drug use for social purposes occurs more often in areas where these substances are easily accessible.

Drugs and alcohol help your brain produce dopamine, which causes you to feel happy. When a person abuses these substances, the brain cannot produce dopamine normally. People who are addicted will then have trouble enjoying things without alcohol or drugs.

Commonly Abused Substances

• Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol can damage your liver and cause other health problems in the future. It can also lead to alcoholism. You might have an alcohol use disorder if the absence of alcoholic drinks affects your daily life.

• Prescription Medicines

Pain pills, stimulants, and even anxiety pills are prescription drugs. If the medicine is prescribed to someone else, it’s best not to take it. Some people abuse prescription drugs to feel high, relax, and even stimulate their brain to improve concentration and increase alertness.

• Opiates

Some opiates are used to treat mild to severe pain. But some people abuse them to get calm. Examples of these drugs are morphine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, heroin, and buprenorphine. They mimic the effect of endorphin production in the body, and that’s one of the main reasons they are abused.

• Methamphetamine

This drug gives the user a pleasurable rush, euphoria, extreme attentiveness, and increased energy. It is readily available, and it’s one of the most abused drugs in the United States.

• Cocaine

Like methamphetamine, cocaine makes a person feel happy and very energized. One effect is to speed up your whole body. Cocaine will make you talk, move, and even think fast. This drug is dangerous because the user might shift their mood to anger after a while, and it can even turn into paranoia.

• Hallucinogens

This drug causes hallucinations. People who take it typically see images and feel like they have no control over their body and environment. The most common hallucinogens are Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Peyote, Phencyclidine (PCP), and Ketamine. People use them to have fun, de-stress, and escape reality for a while.

• Inhalants

These chemicals produce a quick high. They are found in household products that have chemical vapors like solvents, aerosols, gases, and nitrites. They are legal, easy to purchase, and easy to hide. People snort or sniff the fumes and get a high that lasts for a few minutes. They sniff them repeatedly to maintain the feeling.

Symptoms of Abuse

Symptoms may vary from person to person, depending on how dependent they are on different substances. Here are some of the most common symptoms of substance abuse:

  • They consume more of the substance because they have developed a high tolerance.
  • They spend a lot of time using drugs or drinking alcohol.
  • Their constant drug use has affected their productivity.
  • They still use drugs despite causing many problems in the past.
  • They act recklessly; for example, they drive under the influence of drugs.
  • They have withdrawal symptoms.

Help the Ones Who Have a Substance Abuse Problem

Substance addiction can bring many problems in the long run. Continued use can affect the brain and cause harm to themselves or the people around them. It’s not too late to help these people out. If you know someone who shows symptoms of substance abuse, have them tested.

Drug and alcohol testing is done for different reasons. One is to assist people in identifying signs of addiction and help them make an early intervention. This test might be part of the requirements when someone applies for a job, and the law also requires these tests in certain cases. Contact your nearest drug testing center for help today.


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