Substance use disorder

Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Outlined and Defined

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Drug addiction starts off as an innocent, exciting pastime, but can quickly morph into a substance use disorder. It was intriguing the first time, exciting the second time, and by the third puff, it lost its thrill and resorted to something like breathing: a necessary, recurrent function.

This is a common experience that recovering addicts relate to. 

What is Substance Use Disorder?

Substance Use Disorders, or SUDs, are defined by the CDC as chronic diseases marked by a pattern of substance use. [1] This problematic behavior causes impairment of physical health, as well as social function. Individuals with SUDs are also affected mentally and may continue using drugs despite harmful consequences.

The good news? It’s treatable.

Substance Use Disorder Facts and Stats

According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 40.3 million Americans had a substance use disorder in the past year. [2] Addicts and their family members are not alone in their struggles to combat addiction. Like all other diseases, SUDs make no distinction between social class or income level. Both men and women are affected by this prevalent disorder, and there is never racial discrimination. 

Substance use disorder is definitely among the top health issues that America faces today.

  • 1 in 7 Americans aged 12 and older is experiencing a SUD
  • SUDs affect all aspects of a person’s life; work, school, and home life
  • A SUD diagnosis applies to alcohol, opioids, sedatives, and others
  • Symptoms include cognitive, behavioral, and physiological changes

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Substance Dependence

Drug or alcohol use that continues despite the significant problems that develop because of their frequent use, is known as substance dependence. Addicts are well aware of the physical or social problems that their ongoing drug abuse is causing, yet cannot desist from using them on a constant basis.

Signs of drug dependence include the following:

  • The need for increased levels of drugs, due to high tolerance
  • Constant cravings for drugs or alcohol
  • Loss of interest in social and recreational activities

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Substance Use Disorder Criteria

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), there are 11 specific criteria of symptoms that diagnose a SUD. [3]

These symptoms fall under four basic categories:

  1. Impaired control-unable to stop using the substance
  2. Physical dependence-withdrawal symptoms when decreasing intake
  3. Social problems-neglecting responsibilities at home or work
  4. Risky use-using drugs in settings that endanger you

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The Severity Scale

How do clinicians know how severe a substance use disorder is?

This depends on how many symptoms are present. If the patient just displays one of the aforementioned symptoms, this could indicate that the individual is at risk. Exhibiting 3-5 symptoms, however, points to a moderate substance use disorder. When an individual displays six or more symptoms, that indicates a strong addiction; and thus, a severe SUD.

Red Flags for Substance Use Disorder

Parents or concerned friends should not ignore warning signs of a substance use disorder and should notify proper help. Individuals misusing alcohol or drugs will commonly show these symptoms:

  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • depression

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Substances Associated with SUDs

Although some of the substances below are legal, while the status of some continue to be controversial, they all have an influence on people and pose a potential danger.

·       Cocaine

·       Marijuana

·       Alcohol

·       Opiates

·       Inhalants

·       Pain relievers

A doctor or qualified mental health professional will diagnose SUDs and prescribe treatment based on age, substance used, and frequency of intake.

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Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery

Treatment is not as simple as, say, popping a cork. Long-term sobriety requires constant vigilance and upkeep. Once in the right environment, though, recovery becomes attainable. Since SUDs are so prevalent today, there are treatment centers and resources all across America that offer detox & treatment help. 

Join the roster of hundreds of clients who have used Avenues Recovery’s inpatient and outpatient rehab programs to guide them through the turbid waters of disorder and to secure a clean bill of health. Contact our team of skilled professionals to get started on the path to recovery.

Additional information and guidance are available from:

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