All drugs, medicines included, can alter how your mind and body work. Drug abuse, misuse, and addiction have the potential to cause detrimental long and short-term effects. Drug and substance abuse is when you use alcohol, prescription medicines, and other substances in the wrong way.
Addiction is where you have a compulsive need to use a chemical substance despite its detrimental effects. Drug addiction is a disease and it has been shown to have negative social, financial, and psychological effects. Commonly abused drugs and substances include alcohol, tobacco, and opioids.
Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
It is okay to want a drink or two after a hard day at work. However, you should be concerned when you find yourself finding it a bit tough to go through your activities without taking some alcohol. Alcohol use disorder, formerly referred to as alcoholism, occurs when your body is physically dependent on alcohol to function. In such a scenario, alcohol becomes the most important thing in your life, often ranking above food, nutrition, and sometimes personal grooming.
An alcoholic will drink even when the behavior is negatively impacting their lives or loved ones and may even drink more when under stress. It is important to note that some people may drink to a point where it negatively impacts their lives but they are not physically dependent on alcohol. This is alcohol abuse.
What causes Alcohol Use Disorder?
In the initial stages, taking alcohol will lead to a pleasurable feeling often causing you to want to drink more. However, after excessive drinking, your brain will undergo chemical changes. Eventually, alcohol will no longer give you the pleasurable feeling it did before. However, you will continue taking alcohol to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol use disorder develops gradually but it may have a genetic component to it. Other risk factors include:
- Taking more than 15 drinks per week for males and more than 12 drinks per week for women
- Binge drinking where you exceed 5 drinks a day
- A mental health illness such as anxiety, depression, or schizophrenia
In instances where you are experiencing some hardship or are under a lot of stress, you may also be at high risk for alcohol abuse or alcohol use disorder.
Identifying the Problem
Alcohol use disorder may be difficult to self diagnose. Many people will often refuse to admit that they have a problem. Loved ones may notice that such people will:
- Tend to drink alone
- Have poor eating habits and often neglect personal hygiene
- Become violent or aggressive when asked about their drinking
- Continue taking alcohol even when faced with legal, social, or economic hardship
- Neglect responsibilities to drink
On a personal level, noticing tremors, lapses in memory, illness, and alcohol craving may suggest that you may need some assistance.
Opioid Addiction and Opioid abuse
Of all the prescription medications, pain medications such as fentanyl, tramadol, oxycodone, and the illegal substance heroin, are some of the most abused drugs in the USA. These compounds are derived from the opium poppy and are prescribed for pain after surgery or after injuries. Opioids cause drug dependence (a condition where you experience withdrawal symptoms when you do not take the drug) and addiction. Opioids also cause tolerance (a situation where a drug dose that previously produced an effect fails to produce the same effect). Tolerance to opioids often leads to an overdose that may lead to death. If someone shows signs of an overdose, please call 911 immediately. A person who has taken an overdose will:
- Have an extremely pale face or is clammy to the touch
- Have a limp body
- Start vomiting or make gurgling sounds
- Have a reduced heartbeat and reduced breathing
Taking steps towards recovery from drug and substance abuse is a challenging endeavor that requires personal motivation, and accepting assistance from others. If as an addict you notice that there may be some underlying factors pushing you to abuse these drugs or substances, you ought to deal with the factors first. You may have to change your social circles, seek professional help, and avoid any triggering events or people.
Dealing with addiction is not a journey that you can undertake on your own. After accepting that there is a problem, you should seek out family or friends who can guide you. In some cases, going to rehab may help you get over the withdrawal symptoms. However, after rehab, it would be best to seek an accountability partner or a community to help you lead a drug-free life. Drug misuse and abuse have many detrimental effects. If you or a loved one may going through addiction or drug abuse, call for help now at 833-846-5669.