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Substance Abuse Disorder: What Is It?

by janeausten

To put it simply, substance use disorder (SUD) is a complicated condition characterized by compulsive substance use irrespective of negative effects. Substance use disorders (SUDs) are characterized by a fascination with using one or more substances, such as alcohol, cigarettes, or illegal narcotics, to the cost of the person’s capacity to perform typical, daily activities. In spite of knowing the chemical is bad for them, people continue to use it. Addiction is a term used to describe the most severe forms of SUDs.

Substance use disorders, which are categorized as mild, moderate, or severe in the DSM-5, encompass both substance abuse disorder and substance dependence.


The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that there is no single cause for why people start abusing drugs.

  • To feel good — feeling of enjoyment, “high” or “intoxication.”
  • To feel better — ease pain stress, neglect problems, or lose consciousness.
  • Gain superiority- polish one’s abilities or one’s way of thinking.
  • Curiosity and peer pressure.

Addiction can develop not only to substances but also to practices like gambling (gambling disorder).

Substance abusers and others with behavioral addictions may recognize they have a problem but feel powerless to overcome it despite their best intentions. Addiction can disrupt a person’s life in many ways, including their health, mental state, relationships, and career. One of the biggest causes of avoidable sickness and mortality in the United States is alcohol and drug abuse.

What are substances?

Here are some examples of substances that are frequently abused and eventually lead to dependence:

  • Alcohol- It is one of the most commonly used substances. It’s legal, but there’s a lot of room for misuse. Abuse of alcoholic beverages or drug addiction has been linked to an increased risk of various major health conditions, including brain trauma, liver damage, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. Harmful withdrawal symptoms and dangerous actions while under the influence are two more potential outcomes of substance abuse.
  • Tobacco – Tobacco has been used for thousands of years, and despite the well-documented risks associated with it, it is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people every year. The nicotine in this green plant is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States. Tobacco use is associated with an increased risk of cancer as well as a host of other disorders. It’s not easy to kick the habit because nicotine withdrawal symptoms can be so severe.
  • Opioids – Opioids are among the most abused legal and illegal substances. Depressants and pain medications in the same class are called opioids. Both the illegal form, as in heroin, and the legal form, as in opiate medications, are abused. Codeine, morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone are all examples of opiates. Opioid usage can lead to respiratory depression and mortality, and the resulting physical dependence can be devastating.
  • Stimulants – Included in this category are amphetamines and cocaine. People who want to increase their energy, attentiveness, or productivity often turn to these medicines. Even diet pills can be abused in this way. Overheating, aggression, mood changes, seizures, psychosis, and even heart failure can result from chronic abuse.
  • Hallucinogens – Hallucinogens are drugs that cause the user to experience sensory distortion and reality distortion. You can find them in mushrooms, cacti, and trees, as well as in illicit drugs like MDMA, PCP, LSD, and DMT. Dissociative episodes, erratic behavior, and depression during withdrawal are all possible negative outcomes of using hallucinogens or designer drugs.
  • Cannabis – Available in many states for both medical and recreational use, cannabis is quickly gaining the same level of social acceptance as alcoholic beverages and tobacco products. Abuse of cannabis has been linked to a lack of motivation as well as alterations in sensory perception and cognitive processing.

Despite their differences, all of these drugs work by substantially stimulating the brain’s reward center, leading to euphoria.

The risk of developing SUD varies between these substances. Addiction liability refers to the chance of being addicted to a substance and is affected by many variables (such as orally, by injection, or by inhaling).

  • How quickly the chemical gets into your brain and sets off your brain’s reward system.
  • The amount of time it takes until you start feeling the effects of the drug.
  • The substance’s ability to cause tolerance and/or withdrawal symptoms.

How Are SUDs Diagnosed?

Only trained medical personnel are able to diagnose SUDs.

To evaluate whether you have a SUD according to DSM-5 criteria, they will undertake a comprehensive examination that considers your symptoms and needs (such as medical, social, or psychiatric issues).

How is substance use disorder treated?

Substance abuse can be successfully treated nowadays. One person may require multiple therapeutic strategies throughout the course of their lifetime.

Since SUD is a chronic disorder with the possibility of both remission and relapse, effective treatment frequently entails continued care.

Due to the prevalence of co-occurring mental health issues among SUD patients, it is recommended that these conditions be addressed simultaneously rather than in isolation.

  • Detoxification is one of the three primary types of treatment available.
  • Therapy is based on the principles of cognitive behaviorism.
  • Medically supported treatments.


Substance abuse problems can negatively impact one’s health, relationships, and quality of life if not addressed. You should seek care immediately because they might be fatal. To make sure you’re on the right track with your care, your psychologist in Lahore may suggest that you enroll in a specialized addiction treatment program.


1. What is the most common type of substance use disorder?

The extensive legal availability and societal approval of moderate drinking in the United States contribute to the fact that alcohol use disorder remains the most prevalent type of substance use disorder in the country. Early onset of alcoholism is common among American youth.

2. What makes coping so important to the healing process?

Recovering or adapting coping mechanisms is a vital aspect of the therapeutic process that takes place throughout rehabilitation. The ability to recover from setbacks is crucial to maintaining sobriety over the long run, according to the available evidence.

3. Who is more likely to develop an addiction?

Abuse of any kind, whether physical, emotional, or sexual, greatly increases the risk of substance abuse or addiction in a person. Peer pressure and having friends who use can also increase vulnerability.

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