Commonly Asked Questions about Addiction and Treatment
What is drug addiction commonly called in the mental health fields?
In the mental health field, drug addiction is commonly referred to as a "Substance Use Disorder" (SUD). This term is used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), which is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States.
A Substance Use Disorder is defined as a pattern of behaviors characterized by an inability to control or cut down on use, spending a lot of time obtaining the substance, craving the substance, failing to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home due to substance use, and continuing to use the substance despite knowing it's causing physical or psychological harm.
Substance Use Disorders can be further categorized based on the specific substance involved, such as Alcohol Use Disorder, Opioid Use Disorder, Cannabis Use Disorder, and so forth. The severity of the disorder is also assessed (mild, moderate, or severe) based on the number of diagnostic criteria met by an individual.
It's worth noting that this terminology emphasizes the understanding of drug addiction as a medical disorder, rather than a moral failing or a matter of willpower. This shift in language is part of a larger effort to reduce stigma and promote a more compassionate, effective approach to treatment.
What are relationship risk factors for drug and alcohol abuse?
Several relationship factors can increase the risk of developing a drug or alcohol abuse problem. These include:
- Peer Pressure: One of the most significant relationship risk factors, particularly among young people, is pressure from friends or peers to use substances. This can lead to experimental use, which can progress to misuse or addiction.
- Family History of Substance Abuse: Growing up in a family where substance misuse or addiction is present can increase the risk of developing similar problems. This can be due to both genetic factors and the modeling of substance use behaviors.
- Abusive or Dysfunctional Relationships: People who are in abusive or highly stressful relationships may turn to drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication or escape.
- Enabling Behaviors: If a person's substance use is consistently enabled or excused by their partner, family, or friends, it can perpetuate a pattern of misuse and make it harder for them to recognize or address their problem.
- Isolation or Lack of Social Support: People who feel socially isolated or lack supportive relationships may be more prone to substance abuse. Drugs or alcohol can sometimes be used as a way to cope with feelings of loneliness or disconnection.
- Normalization of Substance Use: In some social or cultural contexts, frequent or heavy substance use may be considered normal or acceptable, which can increase the risk of abuse and addiction.
- Co-dependency: In co-dependent relationships, one person may depend on the other's drug or alcohol problem just as the substance user depends on the substance, creating a cycle that can exacerbate the problem.
Is substance abuse higher in the lgbtq+ community?
Yes, studies have indicated that rates of substance use and substance use disorders are indeed higher in the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and others) community compared to the general population. This disparity is believed to be related to a variety of factors, including the stress and stigma associated with identifying as LGBTQ+.
Here's a closer look at some of the related factors and statistics:
- Minority Stress: Minority stress refers to the chronic stress faced by members of a marginalized group, such as the LGBTQ+ community. This includes dealing with prejudice, societal stigma, discrimination, and the process of coming out. This added stress can increase the risk of substance use as a coping mechanism.
- Mental Health: There are higher rates of mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, among LGBTQ+ individuals, often as a result of minority stress. Mental health disorders are a known risk factor for substance use and substance use disorders.
- Social Environment: Substance use is often more normalized in some LGBTQ+ social settings, such as bars and clubs, which can increase the likelihood of substance use and addiction.
- Access to Care: LGBTQ+ individuals may face barriers to receiving substance use treatment, such as discrimination, lack of LGBTQ+ inclusive treatment programs, and fear of stigma.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), adults who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual were more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to have used illicit drugs in the past year. Transgender individuals also experience higher rates of substance use and substance use disorders compared to their cisgender peers.
It is important to note that while substance use is a significant issue within the LGBTQ+ community, not all individuals within this community use substances or struggle with substance use disorders. A comprehensive, culturally competent approach is needed to address substance use in the LGBTQ+ community, which includes providing LGBTQ+ inclusive prevention and treatment programs, addressing the underlying issues like discrimination and stigma, and improving access to mental health care.