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.
What are the signs of addiction?
Physical symptoms: Changes in appearance, such as weight loss or gain, poor hygiene, bloodshot eyes, or constricted pupils, can be indicative of addiction. Additionally, the person may display signs of intoxication or withdrawal, such as tremors, sweating, or flu-like symptoms.
Behavioral changes: Addiction can lead to significant shifts in behavior, such as increased secrecy, social isolation, or sudden mood swings. The person may neglect responsibilities, withdraw from activities they once enjoyed, or display uncharacteristic aggression or irritability.
Loss of control: A hallmark of addiction is the inability to control substance use or engagement in harmful behaviors, even when the person expresses a desire to stop. This can lead to increased frequency or intensity of use, as well as unsuccessful attempts to quit or cut down.
Preoccupation: The person may become preoccupied with obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of the substance or behavior, often at the expense of other aspects of their life.
Risk-taking: Addiction can lead to increased risk-taking behaviors, such as using substances in dangerous situations, driving under the influence, or engaging in risky sexual activities.
Neglecting relationships: Addiction can strain personal relationships, as the person may prioritize their substance use or behavior over their connections with friends and family.
Changes in sleep patterns and energy levels: Addiction can cause disruptions in sleep patterns, leading to insomnia or excessive sleepiness. The person may also experience fluctuations in energy levels, such as periods of hyperactivity followed by lethargy.
Tolerance and withdrawal: Over time, individuals with addiction may develop a tolerance to the substance or behavior, requiring higher doses or more frequent engagement to achieve the desired effect. If the person stops using the substance or engaging in the behavior, they may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, irritability, insomnia, or physical discomfort.
Continued use despite negative consequences: A key sign of addiction is the persistence of substance use or engagement in harmful behaviors despite experiencing negative consequences, such as health issues, relationship problems, financial difficulties, or legal troubles.
Neglect of responsibilities: Addiction can cause a person to neglect personal, professional, or family obligations, resulting in job loss, financial difficulties, or relationship problems.
How can I get help for opioid addiction?
If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, seeking help is a crucial first step towards recovery. There are several resources and options available to assist you in overcoming opioid addiction:
- Consult a healthcare professional: Speak with a doctor, therapist, or counselor who is experienced in addiction treatment. They can assess your situation, provide guidance, and recommend appropriate treatment options based on your individual needs.
- Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): MAT combines medications like methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat opioid addiction. These medications can help manage withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, and decrease the likelihood of relapse.
- Inpatient treatment programs: Inpatient or residential treatment programs provide intensive, structured care in a controlled environment. These programs typically offer medical detoxification, therapy, counseling, and support group meetings to address the physical and psychological aspects of addiction.
- Outpatient treatment programs: Outpatient programs provide therapy, counseling, and support while allowing individuals to continue living at home and attending work or school. These programs vary in intensity and duration, offering a flexible option for those who cannot commit to inpatient treatment.
- Support groups: Attending support group meetings, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or SMART Recovery, can provide valuable peer support and a sense of community during the recovery process. These meetings allow individuals to share experiences, learn coping strategies, and receive encouragement from others who have faced similar challenges.
- Therapy and counseling: Individual, group, or family therapy can help address the underlying psychological and emotional issues contributing to opioid addiction. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Motivational Interviewing (MI) are among the evidence-based therapies that can be beneficial in the recovery process.
- Helplines and crisis lines: If you need immediate assistance or information about opioid addiction and treatment resources, consider calling a helpline, such as our own (877-882-9275), or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or your local crisis hotline.
- Online resources: Websites like the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provide a wealth of information about opioid addiction and treatment options. Online forums and communities can also provide peer support and shared experiences.