Substance Abuse Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Substance abuse refers to a patterned use of drugs or alcohol in which the user consumes the substance in amounts or with methods which are harmful to themselves or others. This pattern of behavior often leads to uncontrollable cravings.
Depending on the substance and the individual, substance abuse affects different people in different ways. There are many common signs that are directly related to when a person becomes addicted to a substance though, and they may include:
- Unusual mood swing
- Lack of motivation
- Seems fearful for no reason
- Paranoid thinking
- Poor memory
- Abnormal changes in personality and attitude
- Anxiety and unexplained hyperactivity
Women are the fastest-growing segment of alcohol and drug users in the United States. In fact, up to 4.5 million women over age 12 in the U.S. have a substance use disorder, 3.5 million misuse prescription drugs, and 3.1 million regularly use illicit drugs. While men continue to outnumber women in terms of overall alcohol and drug use, the gender gap has been narrowing. Among girls ages 12-17, the nonmedical use of prescription painkillers, alcohol, methamphetamine, and most other illicit drugs now matches or exceeds that of boys.
While the above statements are facts, there are so many factors that come into play when addiction becomes dominate. Substance abuse progression into addiction or dependence could be based on such factors as family history or genetics. An individual who has a family history of addiction is more likely to become addicted to substance after trying it. Conversely, someone without family history of addiction may take longer or more times using the substance before becoming addicted. It all depends on the drug, the person, their genetics, and their environment
The Effects Of Alcohol and The Brain
The extent that alcohol will affect your brain is dependent on a few different variables such as how much, how often, and how long someone has been drinking. Even an individual’s general health status has an impact on the extent that alcohol can affect the brain. A person’s age, gender, genetics and family history of alcoholism also play a role. You don’t have to engage in serious alcohol and drug abuse to have your brain be impacted by them either. Think about the last time you saw a social drinker have one too many drinks. There was likely some stumbling and difficulty walking, probably slurred speech and almost certainly slowed reaction times. All of these normal, everyday functions originate in the brain so clearly alcohol affects the brain. Chronic alcohol and drug abuse can contribute to irreversible brain and liver damage. Prolonged liver dysfunction as a result of chronic alcohol abuse can harm the brain and lead to a potentially life-threatening brain disorder called hepatic encephalopathy.
The Effects Of Drug Abuse and The Brain
While alcohol and drug abuse share many similar damaging effects to the brain, the way chemical substances can permanently alter one’s actual brain chemistry is different. Drug abuse has also been linked to a variety of emotional and mental health disorders. This is because certain drugs can cause permanent damage to the areas of the brain that are responsible for our emotional and psychological well being. Conditions that have been linked to drug abuse include long-term paranoia, hallucinations, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Unfortunately, the ULOC Center does not provide transitional housing for men. Our transitional housing program
is offered to women and children only. However, this can change in the near future.
The initial decision to take drugs is mostly voluntary. However, when addiction takes over, a person’s ability to exert self-control can become seriously impaired. Brain-imaging studies from people addicted to drugs show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical for judgment, decisionmaking, learning, memory, and behavior control. Scientists believe that these changes alter the way the brain works and may help explain the compulsive and destructive behaviors of an addicted person.
Yes. Addiction is a treatable, chronic disease that can be managed successfully. Research shows that combining behavioral therapy with medications, where available, is the best way to ensure success for most patients. Treatment approaches must be tailored to address each patient’s drug use patterns and drug-related medical, psychiatric, and social problems.
No. The chronic nature of addiction means that relapsing to drug use is not only possible but also likely. Relapse rates are similar to those for other well-characterized chronic medical illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma, which also have both physiological and behavioral components. Treatment of chronic diseases involves changing deeply imbedded behaviors. For the addicted patient, lapses back to drug use indicate that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted, or that alternate treatment is needed.
We use a range of methods to treat substance abuse including: psychological evaluations, behavioral therapies, relapse prevention, family counseling, group and individual therapy. Treatment plans are created for each individual and tailored to their specific needs. Our goal is to educate clients on how to cope with addiction triggers and to help them improve physical and mental health in order to regain control of their life.
Alcoholism and other addictions are more like a chronic disease that can be held in remission indefinitely if the right steps are taken, but it cannot be cured in that you must remain aware of your vulnerabilities as well as environment cues that could set you up for relapse.