Definition Of Substance Abuse

Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse, is the use of a drug in amounts or by harmful methods to the individual or others. It is a form of substance-related disorder. Differing definitions of drug abuse are used in public health, medical and criminal justice contexts. In some cases, illegal or anti-social behavior occurs when the person is under the influence of a drug, and long-term personality changes in individuals may also occur. In addition to possible physical, social, and psychological harm, the use of some drugs may also lead to criminal penalties, although these vary widely depending on the local jurisdiction.

Substance abuse can be defined as a pattern of harmful use of any substance for mood-altering purposes. “Substances” can include alcohol and other drugs (illegal or not) as well as some substances that are not drugs at all. “Abuse” can result because you are using a substance in a way that is not intended or recommended or because you are using more than prescribed. 

Substance abuse affects people from all walks of life and all age groups. These illnesses are common, recurrent, and often severe, but they are treatable, and many recover. Mental disorders involve changes in thinking, mood, and behavior. These disorders can affect how we relate to others and make choices[1].

Substance abuse is a pattern of drug use that leads to significant problems such as failure to attend work or school, driving a vehicle while.
Substance abuse is a pattern of drug use that leads to significant problems such as failure to attend work or school, driving a vehicle while under influence, and breaking relationships.

What Is Harmful Use Of Substances?

Health officials consider substance use as crossing the line into substance abuse if that repeated use causes significant impairment, such as:

  • Disabilities
  • Failure to meet responsibilities
  • Health issues
  • Impaired control
  • Risky use
  • Social issues

In other words, if you drink enough to get frequent hangovers, use enough drugs that you miss work or school, smoke enough marijuana that you have lost friends, or often drink or use more than you intended to use, your substance use is probably at the abuse level.

However, the broad range of substance abuse in today’s society is not that simple.

Substance abuse refers to excessive use of a drug in a way that is detrimental to self, society, or both.
Substance abuse refers to excessive use of a drug in a way that is detrimental to self, society, or both.

The Dangers Of Illegal Drugs

Generally, when most people talk about substance abuse, they refer to illegal drugs. However, drugs of abuse do more than alter your mood. They can cloud your judgment, distort your perceptions, and change your reaction times, all of which can put you in danger of accident and injury.

These drugs got to be illegal in the first place because they are potentially addictive or can cause severe negative health effects. In addition, some believe the use of illicit substances is considered dangerous and, therefore, abusive[2].

What Is Detoxification?

Detoxification (detox) is the process of letting the body remove the drugs in it. The purpose of detox is to safely manage withdrawal symptoms when someone stops taking drugs or alcohol[3]. Everyone has a different experience with detox. The type of drug and how long it was used affect what detox will be like. Medications used in detox help keep former users comfortable while the drugs leave their bodies. It can take days or months to get through withdrawal symptoms for most drugs. The length of withdrawal depends on several factors, including[3]:

  • Type of substance the user is addicted to
  • The duration an addiction has lasted
  • Genetic makeup
  • The severity of the addiction
  • Method of abuse (snorting, smoking, injecting, or swallowing)
  • The amount of a substance the user takes at one time
  • Family history
  • Medical condition
  • Underlying mental health conditions

Can I Detox At Home?

Choosing to detox at home can be deadly. Quitting “cold turkey” or without medical supervision can lead to severe issues such as seizures and severe dehydration.

There are inpatient and outpatient detox programs that help prevent dangerous complications. People with severe addictions should seek inpatient detox because withdrawal can be fatal. Inpatient detox includes 24-hour support and monitoring.

The Process Of Detoxification

Everyone’s detox needs are different. The drug detox process helps addicted people get personalized treatment. In most cases, the process involves three steps:

  • Evaluation: The medical team screens incoming clients for physical and mental health issues. Doctors use blood tests to measure the number of drugs in the client’s system. This helps determine the level of medications needed. There is also a comprehensive review of the drug, medical, and psychiatric histories. This information sets up the basis for the client’s long-term treatment plan.
  • Stabilization: The next step is to stabilize the client with medical and psychological therapy. The goal of stabilization is to prevent any form of harm to the client. Doctors can prescribe addiction treatment medications to avoid complications and reduce withdrawal symptoms.
  • Preparing Entry Into Treatment: The final step of detox in preparation for a treatment program. Doctors familiarize their clients with the treatment process and what to expect. Inpatient rehab offers the best chances of success after detox.

Withdrawal During Detox

The process of drug detox can be painful and dangerous. This is why medical detox is so necessary. Detox with medical supervision allows clients to detox in a safe and comfortable environment. The extent of care is different in inpatient and outpatient rehab. A medically supervised detox prevents dangerous complications of drugs. Although medical detox limits the symptoms of withdrawal, some are unavoidable. Some of the most common side effects may include:

Substance abuse can simply be defined as a pattern of harmful use of any substance for mood-altering purposes.
Substance abuse can simply be defined as a pattern of harmful use of any substance for mood-altering purposes.
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Body discomfort
  • Mood swings
  • Poor sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating

Drug Detox During Pregnancy

A pregnant woman has a solid motive to quit drugs. Drinking alcohol or using drugs while pregnant can harm the mother and the fetus, as these substances cross the placenta. Detox, especially cold turkey, can cause stress on the fetus, such as preterm labor or severe fetal distress. Detox with medical supervision is an absolute must for pregnant women, as withdrawal symptoms may be incredibly harmful to the fetus. The goal of detox for pregnant women is to prevent relapse and manage pain. Detox specialists can keep fetuses safe and healthy by treating pregnant women in detox.

Detox By Drug Type

Detox is more difficult for some people depending on the drugs they use. Depending on the drug, withdrawal symptoms may be more physical or more mental. Cocaine withdrawal, for instance, is psychological. Detox involves managing initial cravings and anxiety. But alcohol withdrawal includes physical symptoms that can cause seizures or death in some cases. Detox often includes medications that mimic the effects of drugs to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Medications may also target co-occurring disorders or general discomfort. Drugs that are most dangerous to detox from and often require a prescription include alcohol and Benzodiazepines. The drugs that are considered the most uncomfortable to detox from are Opioids, especially Heroin.

Rapid And Ultra-Rapid Detox And Risks

Rapid detox is a method of removing substances from a user’s system faster than regular detox. Advocates of rapid detox say it’s a faster way to get the drugs out of the body while avoiding painful withdrawal symptoms[4]. In rapid detox, the addicted person is sedated with Anesthesia and given medications that replace the drugs in the body. This method was initially developed for people addicted to Opiate drugs like heroin and painkillers. However, the risks of rapid detox often outweigh the benefits.

Rapid detox Can Cause:

  • Heart attack
  • Paranoia
  • High body temperature
  • Infection
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Aspiration
  • Choking
  • Death

Traditional rapid detox programs take about 2 to 3 days to complete and carry less danger but are still more expensive than a typical detox. It can cost up to $10,000 and isn’t generally covered by insurance[5]. Most people who complete rapid or ultra-rapid detox report continuation of withdrawal symptoms, albeit at a lower severity. Clients who choose rapid or ultra-rapid detox are much less likely to continue in treatment, such as attending inpatient or outpatient rehab. Because of this, they are less likely to work on relapse prevention, possible co-occurring mental health conditions, and life planning and, therefore, more likely to experience relapse.

Treatment Programs

Research studies on addiction treatment typically have classified programs into several general types or modalities. However, treatment approaches and individual programs continue to evolve and diversify, and many programs today do not fit neatly into traditional drug addiction treatment classifications.

Most, however, start with detoxification and medically managed withdrawal, often considered the first stage of treatment. Detoxification, the process by which the body clears itself of drugs, is designed to handle the acute and potentially dangerous physiological effects of stopping drug use. However, as stated previously, detoxification alone does not address the psychological, social, and behavioral problems associated with addiction and therefore does not typically produce lasting behavioral changes necessary for recovery. A formal assessment and referral should thus follow detoxification to drug addiction treatment[6].

Because it is often accompanied by unpleasant and potentially fatal side effects stemming from withdrawal, detoxification is usually managed with medications administered by a physician in an inpatient or outpatient setting; therefore, it is referred to as “medically managed withdrawal.” Drugs are available to assist in withdrawing from opioids, benzodiazepines, alcohol, nicotine, barbiturates, and other sedatives.

At We Level Up Treatment Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. We work as an integrated team providing information about the substance abuse detox center and other aspects of treatment. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.

Sources

[1] SAMHSA – https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disorders

[2] Public health and international drug policy – https://dx.doi.org/10.1016%2FS0140-6736%2816%2900619-X

[3] National Institute on Drug Abuse – http://www.drugabuse.gov/frequently-asked-questions

[4] Fox News – http://www.foxnews.com/story/2005/01/24/rapid-drug-detox-hope-or-hoax.html

[5] USA Today – http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2002-08-13-detox_x.htm

[6] NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/drug-addiction-treatment-in-united-states/types-treatment-programs

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