Substance Use Disorders
A substance use disorder is the term given when someone has a set of symptoms related to a problematic use of drugs and alcohol. There are three distinct areas where a person’s life is disrupted due to their continued substance abuse: thoughts, behaviors and overall physical well-being. Because the desire to continue using drugs and alcohol is strong, a person may compromise values, morals and sacrifice primary relationships.
Prolonged use of drugs and alcohol can change brain circuits and have a negative impact on how a person thinks and feels. Some changes may persist even after drugs and alcohol abuse is eliminated. It is suggested that the most effective way to help a person recover from substance use disorder is attending a residential addiction treatment program.
Characteristics of Substance Use Disorder
There are clear indications that your loved one may be suffering from a substance use disorder, it is best to review your observations with a professional and decide if addiction treatment is needed.
Below are some of the common indicators that someone may be suffering from a substance use disorder:
- Mood Swings
- Always Broke
- Not following through on commitments
- Drastic change in friends
- Dropping out of school
- Flunking a semester
- Failure to transition to adulthood
- Avoiding family
- Disappearing for periods of time
- Drastic weight loss
- Trouble staying awake
- Sleeping for abnormally long periods of time
The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) lists four categories of classification of use. Of those four, Social Impairment is when most people enter addiction treatment programs. Often, this is the time when those closest to the person with substance use disorder recognize that something is wrong. It is essential to intercede at this point to help protect your loved one from additional physical and emotional damage due to substance abuse.
Below is a list of the four categories, as indicated in the DSM-5.
- Impaired Control– Taking large amounts of substances over a longer period than intended. Unsuccessful attempts to cut down and/or ongoing cravings or urges to use.
- Social Impairment– Because of substance abuse, your loved one has failed to fulfill roles such as work, school, and employment. Increased interpersonal problems such as withdrawal from family and giving up social and recreational activities.
- Risky Use– Using substances is physically hazardous, and your loved one continues to use, despite knowledge of negative consequences. Failure to abstain from drugs and alcohol.
- Pharmacological– Tolerance has been built, requiring more substances to obtain effects. Withdrawal symptoms are present when the substance effects wear off, indicating physical dependence.
Substance Use Disorders and Mental Health
More than 50% of individuals with an addiction to drugs or alcohol also have a mental health disorder. Continued substance abuse will exacerbate mental health symptoms, and if there is an already existing mental health disorder, symptoms will remain present long after alcohol and drug use is eliminated. Many times, people use substances to help distract from the discomfort of mental health symptoms. Others are predisposed to the development of mental health disorders that may be triggered by substance abuse.
The complex nature of treating both disorders at the same time requires highly trained and expert professionals. It is difficult to find treatment facilities competent and licensed to effectively treat the co-occurring and dually diagnosed individual. Lifeskills South Florida has become one of the National Centers of Excellence that professionals and families seek out for this type of specialty care because of their experience and success in treating this population for over 26 years.
Long-term residential addiction treatment offers trained professionals that can help you distinguish if this is a substance-induced disorder or a true mental health disorder. The DSM-5 explains substances that mimic mental health symptoms when either intoxicated or going through withdrawal. “Alcohol, sedatives, hypnotics and alcohol will produce prominent and clinically significant depressive disorders, while anxiety conditions are likely to be observed during withdrawal syndromes of these substances. Stimulants (amphetamines and cocaine) are likely to be associated with substance-induced psychotic disorders, with substance-induced anxiety disorders and substance-induced major depressive episodes observed during withdrawal.” (DSM-5)
Addiction Treatment for Substance Use Disorders
Eliminating drug and alcohol abuse is only the first step to recovery. Often people need additional assistance to learn how to effectively manage mental health symptoms, cravings and triggers which lead to substance abuse. Mental health professionals understand those struggling with co-occurring disorders (often referred to as dual diagnosis) are at high risk for relapse and require a great deal of attention and support. While clinicians explore the complexities of each case, time is of great importance. Discovering the relationship between the substance use and mental health issue becomes a primary focus while stabilizing and supporting the patient and family.
You have options, call a Lifeskills South Florida Admissions Counselor at 844-749-1560 and find out how we can help you today!