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What Are Substance Abuse Disorders?

Substance Abuse Disorders

Substance abuse disorders are a type of complex condition that affects the chemistry of the brain and causes a person to become unable to control their use of a given substance. Various types of drugs, both legal and otherwise, affect the brain’s reward mechanism in order to give the user a “high” feeling. Overstimulation of the brain’s reward mechanism can chemically rewire the brain to become dependent on these substances. This dependence is called addiction.

Millions of people struggle with substance abuse and the numbers are continuing to rise. Whether it is alcohol, prescription medication, or street drugs, it isn’t difficult to move from recreational use to dependency, and people often don’t realize they have an addiction until it’s too late. Those who become dependent on substances face a myriad of challenges in their daily lives, including possible mental health problems.

Types of Substance Abuse Disorders

There are many substances that can lead to addiction, however most substance abuse disorders develop as a result of using one of the following drugs: alcohol, opioids, nicotine, cannabis, stimulants, sedatives, or hallucinogens.

Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a condition characterized by a person’s inability to control their consumption of alcohol regardless of the negative consequences it may have on their life. People who suffer from AUD become dependent on the intoxicating effects of alcohol and may frequently become anxious or uncomfortable when they are unable to drink.

Opioid Use Disorder

Opioid Use Disorder is characterized by the overuse of opiate-containing substances including prescription pain medications, heroin, and fentanyl. These substances bind with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain making them highly addictive.

Nicotine Use Disorder

Nicotine Use Disorder is a condition that develops when the brain becomes dependent on the high experience from consuming nicotine, the active chemical in tobacco. There are many forms of tobacco use that are highly addictive and can have devastating health effects.

Cannabis Use Disorder

Cannabis Use Disorder is defined as having an addiction to the chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC causes mind-altering effects on the brain and can alter one’s senses and mood. The brain becomes dependent on this effect which can lead to developing this disorder.

Stimulant Use Disorder

Stimulant Use Disorder is characterized by having an addiction to dopamine-producing substances. Dopamine is a chemical secreted by the brain that is associated with pleasure, movement, and attention. Taking stimulants causes the brain to release much higher levels of dopamine than normal resulting in the individual developing an addiction.

Sedatives Use Disorder

Sedatives Use Disorder is defined as an addiction to central nervous system depressants. These substances slow brain activity and are typically prescribed for treating anxiety and sleep disorders, however these substances are highly addictive. It is easy to develop tolerance to these substances forcing the individual to take higher doses leading to dependence on the drug.

Hallucinogen Use Disorder

Hallucinogen Use Disorder is the overuse of mind-altering chemicals that cause the brain to distort its surroundings and experiences. Hallucinogens disrupt communication within the brain and spinal cord causing a person’s perceptions to become altered.

Causes of Substance Abuse Disorders

Substance abuse disorders can develop due to any number of factors. Childhood trauma, genetics, undiagnosed mental health problems, and various types of injuries and chronic pain can all lead to substance dependency. Having a family history of addiction dramatically increases one’s chances of developing an addiction.

Treatment for Substance Abuse Disorders

Fortunately, there are many treatment options available that are shown effective for a wide range of substance abuse disorders. Outpatient psychiatric rehabilitation programs like LAT’s Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) are particularly effective for helping individuals identify the root of their addiction, and learn the skills and tools needed to overcome problems in their lives. Combining ongoing group and one-to-one therapy sessions with experiential modalities incorporating music, yoga, and drama, our hands-on approach allows clients to approach issues in new ways and learn flexibly while reducing “program fatigue.”

Contact Life Adjustment Team

At LAT we understand the impact that addiction has on both individuals and families alike. The state-of-the-art rehabilitation techniques, comprehensive training, and in-home family support offered by our Team provide a vital support system to assist loved ones and build a pathway to progress for those living with an addiction. When you work with our Team you can trust that your family is safe in the hands of highly qualified professionals with a proven track record of successfully helping people develop self-confidence, find direction, and make progress along their journey to recovery. Contact our Clinical Team today to get started!