Many people ask, “What is substance abuse?” Substance abuse differs from addiction or substance dependence because the user is not physically or mentally addicted to the substance.
Substance abuse is a wide-spread phenomena that can impact anyone. The staff members at our rehab center in NJ have over 40 years of experience providing addiction help for clients suffering with substance abuse.
What is Substance Abuse: A Definition
The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that 24.6 million people over the age of 12 were illicit drug users or abused a prescription medication within the last month.
The Fourth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the, “DSM-IV”) defines substance abuse as follows:
“Substance abuse is defined as a maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress as manifested by one (or more) of the following, occurring within a 12-month period:
- Recurrent substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home (like, substance-related absences, poor work performance, suspensions or expulsions from school, or neglect of children or household).
- Recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (like, driving an automobile or operating a machine while impaired). Recurrent substance-related legal problems (like, arrests for substance-related disorderly conduct).
- Continued substance use despite persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance (like, arguments with spouses about intoxication and physical fights).”
The symptoms for “substance abuse” do not meet the criteria for “substance dependence.” According to the DSM-IV, a person can be abusing a substance or dependent on a substance, but not both at the same time.
What is Substance Abuse: When and How Does It Begin?
Recreational use and abuse of substances usually begin in adolescent or teen years. Certain factors may make someone more likely to abuse substances:
- Chaotic home environment
- Bad parenting
- Poor social skills
- Poor grades
- Peer pressure
What is Substance Abuse: Recognizing Signs
Early recognition of a substance abuse problem increases the chance of successful rehabilitation treatment. Here are some of the signs:
- Losing interest in activities such as sports, hobbies, and seeing friends,
- Declining grades,
- Aggressiveness and irritability,
- Disappearing money or valuables,
- Use of room deodorizers and incense,
- Possession of paraphernalia (like baggies, small boxes, pipes, and rolling paper), or
What is Substance Abuse: Commonly Abused Substances
Commonly abused substances include:
- Club drugs (ecstasy, GHB, Rohypnol)
- Dissociative drugs (PCP, Ketamine, cough medicine).
What are the Consequences/Dangers of Substance Abuse?
Substance abuse can lead to problems in all areas of life. It is important to get help before the problems get worse. The following are some of the consequences/dangers of substance abuse:
- Developing addiction
- Arrests and charges (crimes like drug possession, public intoxication, underage drinking, assault, and DWI/DUI)
- Motor vehicle accidents while under the influence
- Overdose, coma, or death
- Brain damage
- Sexually transmitted disease due to risky sexual behavior
- Organ damage and cancer
- Poor decision making
- Hurting/losing friends and family
- Emotional problems (depression, anxiety, paranoia, delusions, black outs, and memory loss)
- Being a victim of sexual assault while under the influence
- Withdrawal symptoms may occur if substances are denied or unavailable
Symptoms of withdrawal syndrome can include anxiety, jumpiness, shaking, trembling, sweating, nausea, insomnia, depression, fatigue, loss of appetite, and even seizures. If you or someone you love is showing signs of withdrawal, you should consider seeking medical assistance immediately. You can find more information here.
What Can You Do?
Please call us today to find out what rehabilitation therapy programs may be available for you or your loved one. Call our New Jersey rehab facilities to talk to an intake coordinator 24 hours a day at 888-687-6977, or contact us here.
One call may be all it takes to make a brighter tomorrow.