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Substance abuse disorder

Addictive behaviour, whether it involves excessive intake of high calorie food. resulting in extreme obesity or involving the abuse of substances such as alcohol or cocaine, is one of the most severe problems being faced by society today. Disorders relating to maladaptive behaviours resulting from regular and consistent use of the substance involved are called substance abuse disorders. These disorders include problems associated with using and abusing such drugs as alcohol, cocaine and heroin, which alter the way people think, feel and behave.

There are two sub-groups of substance-use disorders, i.e., those related to substance dependence and those related to substance abuse. Substance abuse occurs when you use alcohol, prescription medicine, and other legal and illegal substances too much or in the wrong way. In substance dependence, there is intense craving for the substance to which the person is addicted, and the person shows tolerance, withdrawal symptoms and compulsive drug-taking. Tolerance means that the person has to use more and more of a substance to get the same effect. Withdrawal refers to physical symptoms that occur when a person stops or cuts down on the use of a psychoactive substance, i.e. a substance that has the ability to change an individual’s consciousness, mood and thinking processes.

Addiction is different from substance abuse. Many people who struggle with substance abuse are able to stop using drugs or alcohol or change their destructive habits. Contrarily, addiction is an illness. It implies that you are unable to stop consuming even when your situation is harmful to you.

Commonly abused drugs

Alcohol. Alcohol affects everyone differently. But if drank too much and too often, there is a chance of an injury or accident. Heavy drinking also can cause liver and other health problems or lead to a more serious alcohol disorder. For many people the pattern of alcohol abuse extends to dependence. That is, their bodies build up a tolerance for alcohol and they need to drink even greater amounts to feel its effects. They also experience withdrawal responses when they stop drinking.

Heroin. This illegal drug is the natural version of manmade prescription opioid narcotics. Heroin gives you a rush of good feelings at first. But when it wears off, everything slows down. The person will move and think more slowly, and you may have chills, nausea, and nervousness. The most direct danger of heroin abuse is an overdose, which slows down the respiratory centres in the brain, almost paralysing breathing, and in many cases causing death.

Cocaine. This drug speeds up the whole body. When using cocaine, the person may talk, move, or think very fast. They may feel happy and full of energy. But almost immediately the mood may then shift to anger. The person may feel like someone is out to get them. It can cause them to do things that don’t make sense. It may also cause problems in short-term memory and attention. Dependence may develop, so that cocaine dominates the person’s life, more of the drug is needed to get the desired effects, and stopping it results in feelings of depression, fatigue, sleep problems, irritability and anxiety. Cocaine poses serious dangers. It has dangerous effects on psychological functioning and physical well-being.

According to DSM 5 substance abuse disorder is a maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by one (or more) of the following, occurring within a 12-month period. The symptoms are as follows:

  • Feeling that you have to use the drug regularly, daily or even several times a day

  • Having intense urges for the drug that block out any other thoughts

  • Over time, needing more of the drug to get the same effect

  • Taking larger amounts of the drug over a longer period of time than you intended

  • Making certain that you maintain a supply of the drug

  • Spending money on the drug, even though you can't afford it

People who are battling with addiction frequently reject that they have a problem and put off getting help. An intervention might inspire someone to seek or accept help by giving them an organised opportunity to make adjustments before circumstances get worse.

An intervention must be carefully planned. Family and friends may carry it out under the guidance of a healthcare specialist or mental health expert, such as a certified alcohol and drug counsellor, or they may carry it out on their own. It involves the person's family, friends, and occasionally co-workers, clergy, or other concerned parties.

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