Addiction is a complex, chronic, and progressive mental and behavioral health condition. One of the most common types of addiction is Substance Use Disorder (SUD).
SUD begins as substance dependence. Dependence happens when we rely on a substance to change the way we feel.
According to SAHMSA, around 19.7 million people in the United States have SUD. The DSM-5 defines SUD as patterns of “symptoms resulting from the use of a substance that you continue to take, despite experiencing problems as a result.”
The initial reasons for substance misuse may relate to unresolved trauma, emotional dysregulation, or peer pressure, or normalization of drug use in the home. However, the body becomes dependent on the drug after even a short period of misuse. When dependence occurs, it is difficult to stop using. Common addictive drugs are:
- Prescription drugs
All types of addiction have a negative impact on all areas of a person’s life. This chronic, progressive condition leads to a broad range of health problems, such as:
- Cognitive decline
- Poor school or work performance
- Organ failure
- Poor concentration and attention
- Mental health conditions getting worse
- Legal issues
- Financial struggles
- Job loss
- Strained relationships with family members and friends
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Substance Addiction?
A broad range of symptoms characterize substance addiction, and it is important be able to recognize the signs. When you understand the signs and symptoms, you are better equipped to notice them in yourself or others. Ultimately, this could make the difference in getting the help you need in time.
Many people do not notice the signs until their life has completely changed for the worse. The earlier addiction treatment is sought, the greater the chance of recovery success according to SAMHSA . If you suspect that you or a loved one are struggling with substance addiction, consider the following signs:
- Lies and secrecy about drug use
- Stealing, borrowing, or begging for money to fund drug use
- Changes to social group, only socializing with people who drink or use drugs
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Hidden stashes of drugs or alcohol
- Failed attempts to quit using drugs or alcohol
- Neglect of appearance and personal hygiene
Addiction leads to the onset of a broad range of difficult and overwhelming physical and psychological symptoms when we try to quit. This is withdrawal and is one of the leading causes of relapse. Some of the most common symptoms of addiction include:
- Increased tolerance to drugs or alcohol
- Withdrawal symptoms following cessation of use
- Drug seeking behavior
- Mood swings
- Drastic weight loss/gain
How Is Addiction Treated?
Addiction is a complex condition to treat, but effective, evidence-based treatments are available. Addiction treatment often requires an integrated approach, combining various forms of psychotherapy and specific medication.
Some substances of misuse, such as alcohol or heroin, need detoxification medication to prevent shock to the body and ease withdrawal symptoms. Others, such as cocaine and marijuana, do not require specific medicines during treatment. Still, treatment providers can use antidepressants and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) medications to help ease clients withdrawal symptoms.
Detoxification, or detox, is the first step in addiction treatment and is how the body restores itself to baseline. This process eliminates the toxic chemicals that have built up in the body over a prolonged period of substance misuse. Detox programs last one to two weeks and are a prerequisite for admission into formal rehabilitation.
In a rehab program, clients engage in individual, group, and behavioral therapies to help them overcome their addiction. During rehab, clients explore their thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors with the support of trained addiction and mental health professionals.
Rehab programs last for around one month, but one’s time in rehab can be extended depending on their treatment needs. Over the course of a rehab program, clients learn the tools, techniques, and life skills necessary to achieve and maintain long-term sobriety.
Aftercare programs, known as continuing care, offer post-rehab support to clients to help them stay afloat in the early stages of their life-long recovery journey.