Substance Use Disorder
Substance use disorder, more commonly known as addiction, is a problem that affects over 21 million Americans each year. Overdose deaths across the nation have tripled since the 1990s, and yet only an estimated 10 percent of people with a substance use disorder seek treatment. Addiction is a very serious chronic disease. Without proper addiction recovery treatment, most people are unlikely to be able to stop abusing drugs or alcohol – increasing their chances of long-term substance abuse-related health problems, or even overdose.
A substance use disorder, or addiction, is a compulsive, uncontrollable desire to use drugs or alcohol. People can be aware of how their addiction is having a negative effect on their physical or mental health, and yet still be unable to stop using. This is because addiction changes the way that your brain works by hijacking your “reward circuit.” This is the area of your brain that is responsible for making you feel happy and relaxed by releasing chemicals like dopamine when you participate in positive activities. Using drugs or alcohol makes your brain release dopamine in extremely large amounts. Over time, your brain gets used to relying on substances in order to release dopamine at all, making you crave drugs or alcohol in order to feel better. There are many different substances that a person can become addicted to, including:
- Club Drugs
- Methamphetamines (Meth)
- Over-the-Counter Medications
- Prescription Medications
What are the Signs of a Substance Use Disorder?
While some people may be good at hiding a substance use disorder for a while, eventually it will begin affecting their life and habits. The signs can be physical, behavioral, or emotional ones. The most common indicators that someone may be struggling with a substance use disorder include:
- Eating more or eating less than usual
- Excessive tiredness
- Frequently changing friends or friend groups
- Having too much energy, talking very quickly, or saying things that don’t make sense
- Losing interest in hobbies or activities
- Losing their job or dropping out of school
- Missing important appointments
- New or worsening sadness or depression
- Not taking care of their personal hygiene
- Problems within their personal relationships
- Sleeping at odd hours
- Spending a lot more time alone
- Sudden or severe mood swings
Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health
One of the most common problems faced by people with a substance use disorder are mental health issues. An estimated half of all people with an addiction also suffer from at least one mental health disorder, often called a dual diagnosis. For some people, these symptoms appeared after they began abusing substances. Others may have tried to use substances to treat their mental health symptoms, instead finding that it only made them worse in the long run. The most common co-occurring disorders include anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, personality disorders, mood disorders, and schizophrenia.
When beginning a substance use disorder treatment plan, it is extremely important that you be screened for mental health issues. Both of these concerns must be treated simultaneously in order for you to be able to overcome your addiction. Left untreated, many people end up relapsing in order to try and self-medicate their mental health issues. Treatment options for mental health issues often include some type of behavioral therapy, and in some cases medications that help to control your symptoms.
Substance use disorder treatment has come a very long way in the last two decades thanks to research and countless different studies. Each individual’s treatment plan will be different, taking into account both the substance they are addicted to, how long and how much they have been using, and their symptoms. The most common types of substance use disorder treatment include:
- Detoxification & Withdrawal Treatment
- Behavioral Counseling
- Evaluation and treatment for mental health symptoms, from depression and anxiety to more serious issues like hallucinations and delusions
- Medication-Assisted Treatment
We focus our treatment in the real world where the cues that cause cravings exist. We incorporate a structure of psycho-social support along with medications when indicated to help patients navigate the world while achieving their substance use goals. In some cases, inpatient treatment is indicated and we can help facilitate referrals to programs that best fit your needs.
Very few people are able to overcome addiction without professional help. The peer-support model can provide guidance but in many cases the 12-step approach does not make sense. We do not believe that addiction is a moral failure but rather it is a chronic disease. We apply this medical model of disease, which may include relapsing and remitting phases, to increase our efforts when needed. This may include prescribing a detox program, maintenance medications and various forms of psychotherapy and support.
We understand just how difficult addiction is to deal with, and to overcome. At WAVE Treatment Centers in Philadelphia our confidential and evidence-based outpatient addiction treatment options are available to anyone who needs substance use disorder treatment. You can count on us to provide you only the best and most appropriate treatment to suit your individual needs. Learn more about WAVE Treatment Centers and call us today at 215-242-0420 to find out exactly how we can help you to get on track to meaningful and lasting sobriety.