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common substance use disorders
August 24, 2020

Common Substance Use Disorders

Despite the prevalence of addiction in America, many people still confuse the condition as a weakness or personal failing. That misunderstanding leads to tragic consequences, including a lingering stigma that may prevent people from seeking the help they need to live healthy, well-balanced lives.

Commonly abused drugs in the U.S. include both legal and illicit substances. Intoxicants such as alcohol and marijuana are readily available in most places, while other drugs are available through a doctor’s prescription. The most prevalent substance use disorders include:

  • Alcohol
  • Opioids, such as codeine, Vicodin, OxyContin and heroin
  • Benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Xanax
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamines
  • Marijuana

Nobody begins drinking or using drugs with the goal of becoming addicted, but we know that some people are more predisposed to developing a substance abuse problem than others. These users could develop a dependence after only a short relationship with drugs or alcohol. Many drugs come with a higher likelihood of addiction, as well. Knowing this, doctors often strictly limit the opioids and benzodiazepines they prescribe to their patients.

What Is Addiction?

Addiction is a complex, chronic brain disease with both environmental and genetic components. The chief characteristic of an addiction is a compulsive return to substance abuse, despite the negative effects it has on someone’s life.

Those living with substance use disorders have altered thinking and behavioral patterns. Over time, the use of drugs and alcohol hijacks the brain, causing users to experience intense cravings when they try to stop using the intoxicant. Brain imaging of people who abuse substances reveals changes in the regions related to judgment, decision-making, learning, memory and behavior.

The Multifaceted Effects of Addiction

Drug use often begins as recreational or experimental – people drink or take drugs to feel better, or because of peer pressure. However, prolonged use of the substance builds a tolerance, which means it takes increasingly high doses to experience the same desirable effects.

As substance use disorders progress, they may cause users to experience deteriorating health. Addicts may also struggle to hold a steady job or maintain healthy relationships with others. In an attempt to regain control of their lives, addicts may try to stop using on their own, but find that cravings and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms drive them back to drinking or drug use.

Many people struggle with an addiction and a mental health disorder simultaneously – a condition known as a dual diagnosis. People living with mental health challenges such as PTSD, depression and anxiety may turn to alcohol or drugs in hopes of improving their mood. However, intoxicating substances can magnify the symptoms of mental illnesses. Likewise, people with substance misuse problems may develop mood disorders when their addiction pulls them away from family and friends.

Effective Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

Sadly, many people caught in the cycle of addiction never seek the help they need to learn how to manage their illness successfully. If you have developed a problematic relationship with drugs or alcohol, there is hope for getting treatment and emerging as a healthier, happier person.

You’ll begin with a brief stint in comfortable, medically managed detox, which will help you eliminate all toxic substances from your system. Undergoing detoxification ensures you’re stable enough to progress to the next phases of inpatient rehab, including participation in 12-step programming and working one-on-one with a therapist to uncover the original cause of your addiction.

The goal of undergoing professional treatment is to help you reclaim your physical, mental and emotional health and to show you a path out of the darkness of substance misuse. You’ll learn constructive responses to difficult emotions and discover the joyful life that awaits you when you are free of your chemical dependence. At Beach House, we can help you achieve independence from addiction in a resort-like environment that puts your recovery first. When you’re ready to talk with someone about making a change, call us today.

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