Substance Abuse: What You Need to Know

Substance abuse is something that should be taken seriously. Letting it get on higher levels entails health, behavioral, and other problems that can affect the person abusing one or more substances and the people surrounding them. We must stay aware for the sake of others and ourselves.

Is substance abuse similar to addiction?

Substance addiction is considered a disease that can take weeks, months, and years to treat. But that doesn’t mean substance abuse is something we can take lightly. Even if people with substance abuse problems can quit and change their unhealthy consumption of dangerous and addictive substances, they can still be seriously affected by their intake.

People who suffer from substance addiction can’t halt their consumption due to their bodies becoming dependent on the substances they’re addicted to. Drawing the line between abuse and addiction is important because a good understanding of how different they are can foster effective treatment.

What are the causes of substance addiction?

When it comes to substance abuse and addiction topics, a conversation is highly encouraged but is something avoided by most people suffering from them. The avoidance comes from their fear of being judged by their community or losing an important part of their lives. The fear of speaking up makes it hard for addiction treatment professionals to help people.

The root of substance abuse can be traced to different factors that affect different individuals. Each person suffering from this problem have unique situations that led to their predicament. That’s another reason why speaking up about substance abuse is important. It helps them get the proper help they need—right when they need it.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) stated that there’s no unifying factor that explicitly defines an individual suffering from substance abuse or addiction. But that doesn’t mean there are no recognized factors that contribute to a person’s fall into the pit of substance use.

Here are some of the most common behavioral and psychological factors and situations that are recognized by NIDA as ones that increase the risk of substance abuse:

1. The need to experience pleasure.

A high number of substances bring users feelings of pleasure or euphoria. After the euphoric effects wind-down, users then experience side effects that vary depending on the substance. One of the most common reasons people rely on substances to feel good is to mask negative emotions such as loneliness and unhappiness.

As their bodies and brains get accustomed to the euphoric side effects of the substances they use, they begin to depend on them and develop substance abuse problems.

2. Satisfaction of cravings

Well into substance abuse, individuals—even unknowingly—develop a set of physical, mental, and emotional triggers that bring about an intense craving to use a substance. The triggers can be dependent on other people, places, and situations. As an individual continues to succumb to those cues, the substance abuse problem develops.

3. Performance enhancement

Certain substances can alter, enhance, or support the physical or cognitive performance of the user. This reason has led to some people consuming certain substances to help them during situations that need them to perform well.

Another factor pushing them to rely on dangerous substances is their pressure to perform, stay awake, focus, or display cheerfulness. An individual may begin to develop substance abuse problems to follow demands.

4. Self-Medication

An individual may also fall into substance abuse due to different health concerns that are pressing on them. The stress brought about by having a physical ailment can induce feelings of mental and emotional distress.

As they become overwhelmed with those emotions and the situation they’re in. They may start to rely on unhealthy substances to reduce the effects of the symptoms that come with their health problem.

What’s more to the causes?

As stated by NIDA, the situation varies per individual. The triggers may be coming from their environment, such as:

  • Their family
  • Learned behavior
  • Peer pressure

The cause can also be traced back to biological and psychological factors like:

  • The substance’s characteristics
  • Developmental stages
  • Genes
  • Gender
  • Stress
  • Mental health

Cases may differ from person to person, but the best way around it is to speak up and seek help as soon as possible. Even to people who aren’t suffering from substance abuse problems, it’s important to be enlightened. It will allow them to see a sliver of the abuse problem and help them before they get into more dangerous situations.

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