When someone becomes dependent on a substance and they cannot function in their daily life without it, challenges and mental health issues are often the results. This dependence is classified as a Substance Use Disorder—it is a complicated condition that renders a person unable to take control of their substance use. The main reason for this loss of control is that the substance changes the person’s brain chemistry. Both legal and illegal drugs stimulate the reward mechanism of the brain, causing the user to feel “high.” By overstimulating this part of the brain, the user risks chemically rewiring their brain and becoming dependent on the drug.
Whether the substance is a street drug, prescription medication, or alcohol, Substance Use Disorders affect countless people and the numbers continue to rise. For many people, moving from recreational use to dependency is an easy process. The transition is often gradual so that the user does not realize they have become addicted until they are fully dependent on the substance.
The Different Types of Substance Use Disorders
While someone with a Substance Use Disorder can become addicted to any substance, the most common include opioids, alcohol, cannabis, nicotine, stimulants, hallucinogens, and sedatives.
Opioid Use Disorder
This disorder is characterized by a powerful, compulsive urge to use opioid drugs, even when they are no longer required medically. Opioids include fentanyl, prescription pain medications, and heroin. Opioids are extremely addictive because these drugs bind to opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain, which eventually lead to drug dependency.
Alcohol Use Disorder
Someone with Alcohol Use Disorder cannot control how much alcohol they drink, regardless of the damage it may cause to their life and health. Individuals with Alcohol Use Disorder are addicted to the effects of alcohol and often feel stress and/or discomfort if they cannot have a drink.
Cannabis Use Disorder
Dependency on chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is called Cannabis Use Disorder. THC changes the user’s mood and perception of the world by affecting the brain. Oftentimes individuals use THC as a maladaptive coping tool and are able to stop using once they have developed effective coping skills.
Nicotine Use Disorder
This disorder results from a person’s overuse of nicotine (an active chemical found in tobacco), which causes the brain to become addicted to the drug. Tobacco is extremely addictive and is harmful to one’s health.
Stimulant Use Disorder
Dopamine is a chemical released in the brain which mediates pleasure. Stimulant drugs cause the user’s brain to secrete abnormally high levels of dopamine, often resulting in the user becoming addicted to the experience.
Hallucinogen Use Disorder
The abuse of hallucinogen drugs often leads to addiction. The chemicals in these drugs send signals to the brain that cause it to distort how the user perceives and interacts with the world. Hallucinogen drugs cause this distortion by disrupting communication between the brain and the spinal cord.
Sedative Use Disorder
This disorder results when a person becomes dependent on depressant drugs (or sedatives) that affect the central nervous system. This type of drug is often prescribed to a person who has difficulty sleeping and/or is struggling with anxiety—it causes brain activity to slow, giving the user a break from their stress. Sedatives are very addictive; people gradually develop a tolerance, causing them to need higher and higher doses until they eventually require the drug for daily functioning.
How Do Substance Use Disorders Begin?
Genetics is a key factor when determining the cause of Substance Abuse Disorders. If someone has a family history of drug dependence, that person is more likely to develop a drug dependency. Other factors include undiagnosed mental health problems, childhood trauma, chronic pain, and physical injury.
Case Management for Substance Use Disorders
The first step in managing a Substance Use Disorder is understanding the individual, their unique needs, and their specific struggles. There are many reasons for people with this disorder to remain hopeful: multiple treatment options have proven effective for treating many Substance Use Disorders.
LAT’s Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is an outpatient psychiatric rehabilitation program that has helped many people pinpoint the source of their addiction. After identifying the source, individuals can develop the skills needed to regain control of their lives. Our Team combines ongoing group and individual therapy sessions with experiential modalities including art, drama, and music; as well as evidence-based modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. LAT’s proactive method helps clients perceive and manage issues in novel ways, reducing “program fatigue” and learning flexibility.
Life Adjustment Team Is Here to Help
Substance Use Disorders affect both the user and their family causing devastating results. LAT knows the impact addiction can have on individuals and their families—our goal is to give vital support to families affected by addiction and help the user progress towards healing and regaining control of their life. We do this through comprehensive training, state-of-the-art rehabilitation techniques, and in-home family support.
Our Team focuses on family safety methods provided by qualified professionals who have experience helping people discover direction, build self-confidence, and embark on their journey towards recovery. Contact the LAT Clinical Team today!