Causes and Signs of Substance Use Abuse

Substance Use Abuse Causes and SignsAccording to the 2010 National Survey of Drug Use and Health, over 22 million Americans are current users of illicit drugs. Drug users are often involved in experimenting with one or more illegal drugs, and sometimes a combination of illegal and prescription drugs. These may include heroin, hallucinogens, marijuana, cocaine, and psychotherapeutic medications.

There are numerous causes of substance use abuse, but they generally boil down to two major elements: biological and psychosocial. These factors trigger and aggravate the person’s condition.

1. Biological Factors – Addiction is considered to be a family disease, or inherited disease. Other known factors include:

– Biochemical factors or after-effects of addicting medications
– Chaotic home environment
– Ineffective parenting
– Lack of nurturing or love and parental attachment
– Personality or psychological disorder
– Reinforcing effects of regulated medications or drugs

2. Psychological Factors – Commonly, the initial use of drugs begins with curiosity, but can easily in turn induce cravings that lead to a very destructive habit. Other psychological factors of substance use abuse include:

– Using substances as a way to escape reality
– Childhood trauma or loss and poor coping skills
– Inappropriate aggressiveness or shyness
– Lack of self-esteem
– Peer pressure or association with deviant peer group
– Poor self-control and stress management
– Psychological distress
– Social rebelliousness

Substance Use Abuse: Signs and Symptoms

Drug addiction is a highly preventable disease. However, there are some instances where a person falls into substance use abuse because of many or all of the prevailing factors above. In order to prevent the habit from taking over a friend’s or loved one’s life, here are some “red flags” that should alert you if someone you know is becoming addicted to drugs:

Substance Use Abuse Prescripction Drugs– Declining grades in school
– Giving up usual activities such as homework, hanging out with friends or sports
– Irritability and aggressive behavior
– Noticeable changes in behavior or obvious mood swings
– Forgetfulness
– Valuables or money inside the home are mysteriously disappearing
– Depression or suicidal ideations and thoughts
– Lack of care or empathy for others
– The presence of drug paraphernalia: pipes, rolling paper, small boxes and baggies.
– Physical problems, such as red eyes, decline in cognitive functions, slurred speech
– Lying about and denying the use of drugs
– Avoiding friends and family, becoming more isolated
– Getting trouble with the law
– Drinking and driving under the influence
– Relationship and work problems
– Having blackouts or forgetting about recent activities

How to Address Substance Use Abuse

The starting point for seeking medical attention is when the person openly admits to his or her dependence on drugs. Without this acknowledgement, any medical or psychiatric intervention will be pointless. The person must first truly realize the need for treatment before any other form of help can be deemed effective.

Medical practitioners can combine both therapy and medical intervention when dealing with substance use abuse. Doctors may need to prescribe medications to prevent and help control the cravings or manage withdrawal symptoms, as well as treat medical complications from the substance use abuse.

Psychological treatment may include behavioral modification programs, counseling and after-care programs. These modules are designed to provide long-term rehabilitative care for the person, as well as avenues for continuous abstinence.

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