Commonly Asked Questions about Addiction and Treatment
What is the most common substance abuse disorder?
The most common substance use disorder globally is alcohol use disorder (AUD). This disorder, often referred to as alcoholism, is characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.
Alcohol use disorder is defined by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a problematic pattern of alcohol use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by at least two of eleven criteria, within a 12-month period.
The criteria include issues like spending a lot of time drinking, or recovering from drinking, giving up important social or recreational activities in favor of drinking, developing a tolerance (needing to drink more to achieve the desired effect), experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, and continuing to drink even when it's causing physical or psychological problems.
It's important to note that substance use disorders can develop with the use of many different substances, including illicit drugs like cocaine or heroin, and legal substances like alcohol or prescription medications. The prevalence of these disorders can vary by region and demographic group.
Regardless of the substance involved, these disorders can have serious impacts on individuals' physical and mental health, relationships, and ability to work or study. Treatment can often help people with substance use disorders to recover and lead healthy lives. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, don't hesitate to seek professional help.
When a person is a substance abuser, don't they realize their life is being destroyed?
Substance Use Disorder, commonly known as addiction, is a complex condition that can significantly impact a person's judgment, perceptions, and decision-making abilities. Here are a few reasons why someone struggling with substance abuse might not fully realize the extent of the damage it's causing to their life:
Denial: It's common for individuals suffering from addiction to be in denial about the extent of their problem. They might underestimate how much or how often they use, or they may not acknowledge the negative consequences that their substance use is causing.
Altered Brain Function: Addiction affects the brain's reward system and impairs cognitive function. This can distort a person's ability to clearly see the harm that their substance use is causing. They may focus intensely on the immediate rewards of drug use while minimizing or ignoring the long-term negative consequences.
Co-occurring Disorders: Many people with Substance Use Disorder also have other mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety. These conditions can exacerbate feelings of denial or self-deception about the extent of the substance abuse problem.
Fear and Shame: Fear of withdrawal, fear of change, and shame about their substance use can also prevent individuals from admitting to themselves or others the full extent of their problem.
Lack of Awareness: Some individuals may not understand the signs and symptoms of addiction, or they may not recognize that they can seek help and that recovery is possible.
What is smart recovery?
SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training) is a global community of mutual-support groups that provide a structured, scientifically grounded program to help people manage their recovery from any type of addictive behavior, including substance abuse and behavioral addictions.
SMART Recovery's approach is different from other recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, which are based on the 12-step model. Instead of focusing on the concept of "powerlessness" over addiction, SMART Recovery emphasizes self-empowerment and self-reliance. It promotes the ability of individuals to change their own thoughts and behaviors to overcome addiction.
The SMART Recovery program is based on principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing. It is designed around a 4-point program:
- Building and maintaining motivation: This helps individuals to build their motivation to change and avoid relapsing.
- Coping with urges: This gives individuals the skills to deal with urges or cravings as they arise.
- Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors: This is about developing healthy thoughts, emotions, and actions in place of the destructive ones that can lead to addictive behaviors.
- Living a balanced life: This involves individuals identifying what they truly value in life and building their lives around those values, leading to satisfaction and fulfillment beyond their addiction.
SMART Recovery meetings, both in-person and online, are facilitated by trained volunteers and are free to attend, though donations are appreciated. The program also offers a variety of tools and techniques for self-empowerment and self-directed change, available in various formats such as handbooks, worksheets, and online resources.