Dependence or significant impairment or distress, as manifested by 3 or more of the following during a 12 month period:
Substance dependency often starts as a substance abuse problem, and over time develops into a more severe substance dependency. For more information on substance abuse diagnosis click here.
Sometimes its hard to notice someone suffering from a substance dependence disorder – people can be good at hiding it. Signs to look for include a failure in certain obligations such as at work, in relationships, at school due to the use of a substance. The person might be late for work regularly because they are too intoxicated to make it to work, maybe they have legal problems due to traffic violations while they were under the influence.
Whatever the trouble ends up as, those with a substance dependance disorder will end up having trouble keeping their lives together, as their constant desire to be using the substance, and their constant motivation to make sure they always have more of the substance around, will take top priority over everything else. The substance becomes the most important part of their lives, even if they wont admit it.
Once a disorder develops into dependance, the user will not be able to stop without going through withdrawal symptoms – this usually makes it extra hard for the individual to recover.
Having a substance abuse disorder feels like an inability to survive without the substance. It feels like you have to have it, in order to go on. Either due to the substances ability to calm you down, to speed you up, to cover up pain, to feel good, or to just no longer feel bad. Whatever the reason, it becomes a “must have” at all times.
Substance abuse and dependency disorders are a difficult thing to understand. Many times when someone tries a drug for the first time, they do not yet have a substance abuse disorder. However, after trying to substance, even only after trying it a single time, the brains chemistry can change. Once the chemistry changes in their brains they develop a chronic desire for more. Ironically its the use of the drugs themselves that end up causing a substance abuse disease.
Many substances require larger or more frequent uses of the drug in order to accomplish the same “high” that the person got when they first used it. This causes the user to take more and more of the substance as they build up a tolerance. Suddenly stopping a substance is no different than suddenly stopping a medication – it can be painful and have many side effects that are unpleasant.
Genetic factors also play a role, in that certain genetic make ups can increase the risk of developing a substance abuse disorder. However, avoiding even a single use of a substance can prevent a lot of risk.
The most common cause of a substance abuse disorder is a desire to feel better. People who are miserable will always seek ways to try and feel better, many times this leads to drugs after nothing else has helped them to finally be free of their misery. As such, underlying mental health disorders, especially undiagnosed and untreated ones, are the largest cause of substance abuse disorders.
Treatment for substance abuse varies depending on the drug of choice. There are certain medications that can aid in recovery, such as suboxone or methadone.
Psychotherapy or talk therapy is the only true form of “cure” for a substance abuse disorder.