What is Substance Abuse?

In 2002, an estimated 22 million Americans abused or were dependent on drugs, alcohol or both.

Substance Abuse
Over the years, these alarming statistics have dramatically increased, posing a threat to the public health system. There are various rehabilitation centers that help overcome drug and alcohol addiction, but we must first understand and explore what makes people susceptible to alcohol and drug abuse.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the DSM-5 no longer uses the terms “substance abuse” and “substance dependence.” Instead, it refers to substance use disorders, which are defined as mild, moderate, or severe.

Why Do We Drink or Use Drugs?

The reasons for drinking alcohol or using drugs could fill a book. Here are some of the most common reasons…

  • Sometimes it starts with peer pressure and experimentation at parties or social gatherings. It is often considered necessary to try these drugs just to be accepted socially or in a group.
  • Some people drink or abuse drugs as a way to cope with the daily stress and tension from school, and work, or to escape the daily stress of marital distress or physical illness.
  • Alcohol and other harmful substances become a substitute for satisfying personal relationships, challenging work or self-fulfillment.
  • Some may use these as a way to compensate and evade feelings of guilt, shyness or low self-esteem.
  • Still, others started using drugs that were legally prescribed for pain following a surgery or injury, and they got hooked without ever intending to do so

When drinking develops a pattern or a means of dealing with the stress of daily life, then it is likely to turn into an addiction.

Sadly, these dangerous substances have become a part of our social culture and are widely accepted even at younger ages. Exposure to alcohol and drugs at an earlier age further increases the likelihood of developing a habit and addiction.

Acute Physical Effects of Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Anone who has used drugs or alcohol knows that simply using them has adverse physical effects. Here are a few from mild to severe:

  • Dizziness, vomiting, blurring vision
  • Impaired muscle control causes poor coordination, slurred speech and impaired motor skills.
  • Increased heart rate and body temperature
  • Loss of consciousness, respiratory arrest and death

Acute Effects on Mental Abilities

Besides having physical effects, drugs and alcohol have negative mental consequences, including:

  • Poor attention and concentration
  • Loss of inhibitions – users say and do things that in normal circumstances, they wouldn’t have done.
  • Judgment is frequently the first mental capacity affected by alcohol. Poor decision-making, rapid decision-making, and not being realistic in decisions is common.
  • Memory loss of the events or blackouts
  • Exaggerated emotions (fear, anger, anxiety, sadness, etc.)

Long Terms Effects of Alcohol Use

Having a drink after work or socially with friends usually won’t cause any problems for most people. But if drinking becomes a regular habit that increases over time, the long-term effects can cause serious or permanent damage to the brain and body as described here:

  • Causes damage to internal organs like the brain, liver, heart and stomach
  • Breakdown of bone and muscle tissue
  • Developing nutritional deficiencies leading to cognitive impairment
  • Memory loss
  • Unfocused thoughts, short attention span and lack of concentration
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms like tremors, excessive sweating, hallucinations and more

Rehabs and Treatment Centers

Treatment for drug and alcohol abuse requires professional medical help. Dealing with severe withdrawal symptoms can be an extremely difficult and painful experience. A professional detox facility helps addicts deal with withdrawal symptoms through medications and medical care.

Through psychological counseling rehabs, and centers help fight the growing need for dependent drugs.

The first step to leading a healthy and substance-free life is to admit you have a problem. Many people hesitate to get treatment as they don’t recognize that they have an addiction.


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