Substance Use Disorder



Understanding Substance Use Disorder

In this ever-changing world, there is increasing use of drugs and drinking causing serious risk and devastating consequences. This is referred to as Substance use disorder that affects an estimated 25 million Americans.

Substance use disorder (SUD) can cause physical and psychological damage. It is important to break this addiction cycle by proper treatment. SUD is complex a condition involving uncontrolled use of a substance despite harmful consequences. If you suffer from SUD you have an intense focus on using a substance(s) such as alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs. They use it to the point where it impacts your ability to function in daily life. You will keep using the substance even when you know it is causing addiction in severe cases.

Criteria for Substance Abuse Disorders

Substance use disorder impacts various social and biological factors leading to health problems, such as:

  • Drunk and impaired driving

  • Violence

  • Familial stress

  • Potential for child abuse and neglect

There is a high risk of contracting or transmitting infectious diseases like HIV or hepatitis B if you share or reuse needles for using substances.

Behavioral Illustration of Substance Use Disorder

The substances that people usually get addicted to cause negative effects to include:

Addictive Substances including Alcohol Cigarette and Drugs

  • Alcohol

  • Antianxiety and sedative drugs

  • Caffeine

  • Cannabis (including marijuana and synthetic cannabinoids)

  • Hallucinogens (including LSD, phencyclidine, and psilocybin)

  • Inhalants (such as paint thinner and certain glues)

  • Opioids (including fentanyl, morphine, and oxycodone)

  • Stimulants (including amphetamines and cocaine)

  • Tobacco

  • Other (including anabolic steroids and other commonly abused substances)

Substance use disorders usually comprise behavior patterns. In this, the people continue to use a substance despite having problems caused by its use.

All the above substances usually directly activate the brain's reward system and produce feelings of pleasure. This activation of pleasure feeling may be so strong that people intensely crave the substance. They may even neglect normal activities to obtain and use the substance.

Understanding Substance Use Disorder

Substance use disorders can display various symptoms or behaviors include:

  • Feeling to use the substances regularly approximately daily or even several times a day.

  • Intense urges for the substances that block out other views.

  • Requiring more of the substance to get the same effect.

  • Taking a large amount of substance over a longer period.

  • Maintaining a supply of the substance at all times cause,

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

  • Cutting back on social or recreational activities due to substance use.

  • Continuing to use the drug, even though you know it's causing problems in your life or causing you physical or psychological harm

  • Indulging in activities to get the drug that you normally wouldn't do, such as stealing.

  • Driving or doing other risky activities when you're under the influence of the drug.

  • Spending more time getting the drug, using the drug, or recovering from the effects of the drug.

  • Failing in your attempts to stop using the substance.

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms as you attempt to stop taking the addictive substance.

Stages of the Substance Use Disorder

The healthcare provider categorizes the substance use disorder into the following stages:

Doctor Treatment of Substance Use Disorder

  • Experimental use stage: The pressure of the use of the substance with peers for recreation.

  • Regular use stage: This involves you changing your behavior and using the substance to fix negative feelings.

  • Daily preoccupation, or risky use stage: This involves you being preoccupied with the substance and doesn’t care about your life outside of your substance use.

  • Dependence stage: You’re unable to face your life without using the substance. This would increase your financial and personal problems. Sometimes, you may also take risks to obtain the substance that results in legal problems.

Treating the Substance Use Disorder

The treatment regime would depend on the drug being used, but it typically involves counseling and sometimes involves the use of other drugs. Family support and loved ones help people remain committed to stopping the use of the drug.

The treatment regime may vary based on your needs. The treatment that works best for is based on the substance you're abusing, the level of care you need, your personal mental health needs, or what health care options you can afford. Some of the treatment methods include:

Tips for Overcoming Addiction

  • Detoxification: Sometimes substance withdrawal can cause unpleasant or even life-threatening physical symptoms. Thus, medically-assisted detox therapy helps you to get rid of addictive substances in a safe environment from your body. It is typically used in combination with other therapies, as detox does not treat the underlying behavioral causes of the addiction.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This is a valuable treatment as it can be used for many different types of addiction including, food addiction, alcohol addiction, and prescription drug addiction. CBT not only helps you recognize your unhealthy behavioral patterns, but it can also help you learn to identify triggers and develop coping skills. This is usually combined with other therapeutic techniques for the best result.

  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy: This could help you recognize your negative thoughts as well as provide with you ways to combat feelings of self-defeat. The goal is to help you realize the power of rational thinking, which lies within yourself and is not related to external situations or stressors.

  • Contingency Management: This can be used to treat numerous addictions including alcohol, narcotics, and tobacco. Contingency management therapy reinforces your positive behavior such as maintaining sobriety by giving you tangible rewards. This treatment has been used to combat relapse.

  • Medication: Medication plays an important role in recovery when combined with behavioral therapies. Some medications can be used to reduce associated symptoms such as cravings, improve mood, and decrease addictive behaviors. The FDA recently approved lofexidine to help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms in patients receiving treatment for opioid addiction. Medications such as acamprosate can help reduce drinking behavior.



The best way to prevent substance use disorder is to strictly neglect the use of substances in the first place. Thus, education and safety practices are the best tools to reduce harm and avoid addiction.

Mental healthcare, community outreach, and reducing stigma can all help prevent the development of substance use disorders. Harm reduction programs can also reduce complications of substance use and connect people to treatment.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from addiction management, our expert providers at ASP Cares will take care of your health and help you recover.

Call us on (210)-417-4567 to book an appointment with our specialists.

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