Understanding Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is the use of alcohol, a drug or other substance for a non-medical purpose, to produce a mind altering stated in the user. Substance abuse refers to the abuse of alcohol or illegally produced substances, as well as the use of legal medications for a different purpose to the one the medication is meant for. In most cases, the substance in question is used in excessive quantities.

Addiction is a state of physical and/or psychological dependence on a substance. Physical addiction causes tolerance to the substance. This means that larger quantities of the drug or medication need to be used to achieve the same affect. As a result of addiction and tolerance, withdrawal symptoms emerge when the user stops taking the drug. These symptoms disappear when the user resumes taking the drug or the amount is increased. 

Drug abuse does not only involve illegal drugs such as: heroin, cannabis, cocaine or ecstasy, but also prescription medication such as tranquillizers, analgesics, or painkillers, and sleeping pills. Even medicines that can be bought over the counter or off the shelf are resorted to, including cough mixtures or herbal remedies. Alcohol can also be abused and alcoholism or the addiction to alcohol is becoming an increasing area of concern for healthcare professionals. 

Drug or alcohol abuse has a significant number of associated risks. Some of these include:

  • Risk to personal safety (danger of death or injury as a result of an overdose, accident or aggression)
  • Damage to health (including brain damage, liver failure, mental problems etc.)
  • Problems with the law (risk of imprisonment, fines and criminal record)
  • Destructive behaviour (self-harms and harm to family and friends) 

Drug or alcohol dependency is a common cause of financial problems and difficulties at work or school. Often addicted people resort to lying or stealing in order to feed their habit. As a result they can end up losing the support of friends and family. Addicts may experience a sense of shame and guilt, which stems from repeated failures to control their alcohol or drug habit. Yet, despite all these difficulties, people who are addicted frequently deny they have a problem. 

Despite all the negative effects, people who abuse drugs or alcohol are driven to their addiction and tend to deny that they have a drug problem, or that drugs are harmful to themselves or others. Some even believe that they do not really have a problem at all. This subconscious denial is one of the effects of dependency or addiction. Rehabs such as Hope Trust have protocols designed to break this denial so that recovery can begin. 

People suffering from mental disorders such as Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, or adults with ADHD also are at increased risk and often abuse alcohol or drugs. Therefore, it is important when treating patients abusing substances, to treat the underlying condition. Of course, it remains a key to take care of the alcohol abuse at the same time. 

Hope Trust has an effective dual-diagnosis program for those with addiction issues occurring along with psychiatric problems

Scientific evidence indicates that certain people may be an increased risk of alcohol or drug abuse and addiction. These people have inherited a predisposition to addiction from their parents. However, social pressures and other external factors such as: stress, poverty, other illnesses can also play a very significant role. Peer pressure, emotional distress and low self-esteem can lead people to drug abuse. Having easy access to drugs may also be a contributory factor. 

Addicts may experience a sense of shame and guilt, which stems from repeated failures to control their alcohol or drug habit. 

If a person abuses a drug to feel better or to cope with a problem, he or she is very likely to start relying on drink or drugs as a way of avoiding difficult feelings or situations. They may lose, or never learn, the skills that are necessary for them to cope with life. 

The recovery program at Hope Trust is holistic: addressing issues such as low self-esteem, emotional instability, eroded value systems and broken relationships.