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How to Recognize a Substance Use Disorder

Recognizing a substance use disorder or addiction in someone you know is more complicated than it appears. People suffering from alcohol and drug addictions frequently try to hide their symptoms and minimize their condition. However, the repercussions can be tragic if you don’t spot the problem on time. The longer the substance use disorder is present, the harder it is to cure it. To help you out, we compiled a simple guide on how to recognize a substance use disorder in those around you. Continue reading to see how you can help those you love understand that they have a problem.

What is a substance use disorder?

Substance use disorder, often known as drug addiction, is an illness that affects a person’s brain and behavior, resulting in an inability to manage the use of a legal or illicit drug or medicine. Substances like alcohol, cannabis, and tobacco are also considered drugs. When you’re addicted, you continue taking the substance despite knowing it harms you.

Substance addiction can begin with testing a recreational drug in social contexts. After that, drug usage becomes a habit. Some people, particularly those addicted to opioids, get addicted to drugs when they consume prescribed medications or get them from others who have them. Therefore, how fast you become addicted depends on the substance you use. Some drugs have a higher and faster rate of addiction compared to others. However, all of them are just as dangerous.

Furthermore, as time goes by, an addict will start consuming a more significant amount of substances to get the desired feeling of bliss. For some, drug consumption becomes necessary for them to feel “normal.” Furthermore, most addicts will have cravings and a bad overall condition if they try to quit taking substances. Fortunately, there is help and treatment for those with a substance use disorder. All you need to do is recognize when someone has an addiction.

Can you recognize a substance use disorder?

The answer is a definitive YES! Repeated drug use can affect how the brain works. These changes can manifest long after the effects of the substance have worn off or after the period of intoxication has passed. The chemical’s intense sensations of pleasure, euphoria, bliss, increased perception, and other related feelings are part of intoxication. However, the symptoms of intoxication change depending on the drug. And after these sensations pass, the user continues to behave unnaturally. Here are the usual signs of the most commonly abused drugs:

Alcohol abuse

The following are some of the most common physical and behavioral signs and symptoms of alcoholism: impaired thinking, memory loss, poor coordination, and difficulty in speech. In addition, an alcohol addict will be in denial, keep secrets, and look permanently distressed when they can’t have alcohol.

However, when a person with an alcohol use disorder stops drinking, they will feel withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can last for weeks. These symptoms include shaking, anxiety, fever, confusion, cravings, or delirium.

Furthermore, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be endangering for the person who experiences them. Therefore, we advise the supervision of a specialist during this period. A therapist, for instance, can be of great use. And fortunately enough, remote help is available when it comes to addiction therapy. Therefore, don’t hesitate to look online for a therapy provider for the addicted person and yourself. If the person addicted is very close to you, you are probably codependent. Therefore, you will need therapy just as much.

Opioids abuse

Opioid use disorder, like other illnesses, has distinct symptoms and a development pattern. Unfortunately, it tends to worsen over time. The excellent news is, however, that therapy and specific treatment may help bring it under control. Here are the common symptoms of opioid abuse:

  • Drowsiness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of weight
  • Reduced libido
  • Inadequate hygiene
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Financial problems
  • Stealing

Healthcare experts should do the treatment for opioid use disorder. This treatment can be offered as an outpatient service or in a rehabilitation facility.

Marijuana abuse

If you suspect someone you care about is taking marijuana, recognizing a substance use disorder is the first step in finding out. The following are some frequent signs and symptoms of marijuana use: bloodshot eyes, increased appetite, dry mouth, weight gain, sleepiness, or slow reaction time. Psychologically you can observe anxiety, nervousness, distorted perception, euphoria, or relaxation.

Moreover, aggravated symptoms can indicate someone has a marijuana use disorder. These symptoms include paranoia, an altered sense of time, elevated heart rate, or impaired memory. At the same time, a marijuana use disorder has long-term effects, such as mood swings, panic attacks, and breathing problems.

If you or someone you know has a marijuana use disorder, an intervention might be a helpful method to support recovery. People addicted to marijuana often do not feel they have a problem and may require the help of someone on the outside to see what they cannot.

How to recognize substance use disorder in friends or family members?

There are some general signs that you can look for that tell you someone close to you is struggling with substance use disorder. For instance, if you have adolescent kids, they can have school problems, such as bad grades and a lack of socialization. A coworker may show poor work performance, a lack of enthusiasm for their job, and trouble sticking to time limits. Furthermore, your spouse or partner can show changes in physical appearance, bad hygiene, and lack of interest in grooming. In addition, all people with a substance use disorder will have an increased desire for privacy and trouble communicating what is wrong.

Final words

If you think you or someone you care about has a substance use problem, get help from a trustworthy healthcare expert. Together it is much easier to recognize a substance use disorder.  Moreover, you and your doctor can work together to create the best treatment plan for you or your loved one. Choosing recovery requires strength, courage, and commitment. However, remember that you are not alone in your battle with addiction.