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Substance Use Disorder: What Are The Effects Of Drug Addiction & How To Manage?

Demi Lovato, a Grammy-nominated singer, actress and songwriter recently spoke about her drug addiction also called substance use disorder. She has come out and spoken about her battle with addiction. On the other hand, Whitney Houston, the iconic singer lost her life due to addiction. Substance use disorder is a pressing issue that affects the youth and adults alike.

The other celebrities in the circuit who suffered from the substance use disorder are Ed Sheeran, Zac Efron, and Justin Bieber to name a few.

Substance Use Disorder: What Are The Effects Of Drug Addiction & How To Manage?

Back in India, drug addiction is leading to suicides. The National Crime Records Bureau data shows that the states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are at the top when it comes to drug or alcohol addiction-related suicides.

In this article, we will be talking in detail about substance use disorder and its types.

So, What Is Substance Use Disorder?

Substance use disorder is actually a condition that largely affects a person's brain and behaviour. This leads to the incapacity to control the use of an illegal or legal drug. Substances that are considered drugs are alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, nicotine, etc. These drugs addict you to such an extent that you may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes.

Also, sometimes mental health problems can lead to alcohol or drug use because people with mental health illnesses may misuse these substances as a form of self-medication.

What Are The Different Types Of Substance Use Disorder?

1. Alcohol

Drinking too much and too often can cause liver damage and other health problems which can lead to a much more serious alcohol disorder. For men, drinking more than four drinks a day or more than 14 in a week means that you are drinking too much. And for women, heavy drinking means more than 3 drinks in one day or more than seven drinks in a week.

2. Cocaine

Cocaine is a drug that speeds up your whole body. When cocaine is consumed, a person may think, move or talk very fast and he or she may feel happy and energetic. But, it can alter your mood and make you angry which will lead you to do things that don't make sense. Using cocaine continuously will lead to strong cravings for the drug in the long term.

3. Prescription And Over-the-counter Medicines

These are just as addictive as illegal drugs. Taking medicine in extra doses or not using it in a way it's supposed to be taken or taking the drug for a non-medical reason is very dangerous. Some of the prescription drugs that are often abused include anxiety medicines, medicines used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and opioid pain relievers.

4. Marijuana

Countries like Canada, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Jamaica, etc., have legalized the medical use of marijuana. In India, the use of marijuana at a recreational level is tolerated in states like Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and a few North-Eastern states. The effects of marijuana will make you laugh, say silly jokes, make you feel sleepy and forget things that just happened.

5. Heroin

Heroin is an illegal drug that gives you a rush of good feelings at first. But, when the effect goes away, everything slows down which will make you move and think slowly. This will eventually lead you to feeling nervousness, nausea, and chills.

6. Tobacco Products

Tobacco products including cigarettes have a chemical called nicotine that gives you a rush feeling of pleasure and energy. The effects of these wear off fast, leaving you wanting for more just like other drugs, thus you get addicted to it.

What Are The Causes Of Substance Use Disorder?

Specifically, the exact cause isn't known but a number of factors like a person's genes, peer pressure, anxiety, action of the drug, emotional distress, depression and environmental stress can result in substance use.

In addition, people with substance use disorder may have attention deficit disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, a stressful or chaotic lifestyle and low self-esteem or other mental illnesses.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Substance Use Disorder?

According to the mental health.gov, the symptoms of the substance use disorder have been divided into the following categories.

1. Behavioural Changes

  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • Poor attendance at work or school 
  • Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviours
  • Unexplained change in personality or attitude
  • Lack of motivation
  • Sudden mood swings or anger outbursts
  • Appearing fearful, or anxious

2. Social Changes

  • Changing a new group of friends
  • Legal problems related to substance use
  • Unexplained need for financial problems
  • Causing problems in relationship

3. Physical Changes

  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Deterioration of physical appearance
  • Slurred speech, or impaired coordination
  • Large-sized pupils
  • Unusual smell from the body or bad breath

How And When To Get Help?

Substance use disorder can affect your life and the others around you. To stop this, you may need individual and group counselling, medications, rehabilitation, and recovery support services.

1. Individual and group counselling - This involves focusing on reducing substance use, building your skills, and adhering to a recovery plan. Counsellors provide a variety of services which include assessment, treatment, planning and counselling. They also provide therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy, contingency management, and motivational enhancement therapy.

2. Medication - Substance use disorder can be treated with medications and is referred to as Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). So, medication is used in combination with counselling and behavioural therapies. This will reduce the withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

3. Recovery support services - These are non-clinical services that are used along with treatment to support patients in their recovery goals. These services include employment or educational support, specialized living situations, mentoring, coaching, parenting education, etc.

4. Rehabilitation - The purpose of rehabilitation, also known as rehab, is to enable the patient to confront substance dependence to avoid the psychological, social, financial and physical consequences that can be caused by extreme abuse.

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    Story first published: Friday, August 10, 2018, 13:00 [IST]
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