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.
How long do drug withdrawal symptoms last?
The duration of drug withdrawal symptoms can vary widely depending on several factors, including the type of substance used, the duration of use, the degree of dependence, individual metabolism and health status, and whether one quits cold turkey or with medical assistance.
Generally, withdrawal symptoms can be divided into acute and post-acute phases:
Acute Withdrawal: This is the initial phase of withdrawal, where physical symptoms are typically the most severe. Depending on the substance, acute withdrawal symptoms can begin within a few hours to a few days after the last use and can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. For example, alcohol withdrawal symptoms often start within 8 hours of the last drink and can last up to a few days or weeks, while opioid withdrawal symptoms usually start within 12-30 hours of the last dose and can last approximately a week.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS): Some individuals may experience a second phase of withdrawal known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. PAWS refers to a group of symptoms that occur after the acute withdrawal phase, predominantly psychological, such as anxiety, irritability, mood swings, depression, and sleep disturbances. PAWS can last from a few weeks to a year or more after the cessation of substance use.
It's important to remember that withdrawal can be dangerous and even life-threatening in some cases, especially when it comes to substances like alcohol and benzodiazepines. Therefore, withdrawal should always be done under medical supervision. The support and treatment offered by medical professionals during detoxification can also help to mitigate withdrawal symptoms and make the process safer and more comfortable.
How does denial impact drug and alcohol abusers?
"Denial can have a profound impact on individuals struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, significantly affecting their health, relationships, and overall quality of life. Here are some ways in which denial can impact substance abusers:
Prevents Acknowledgment of the Problem: The most immediate impact of denial is that it prevents individuals from recognizing and acknowledging that they have a problem with drugs or alcohol. This can delay them from seeking treatment and starting the recovery process.
Perpetuates Substance Abuse: Denial can contribute to the continued use of substances despite negative consequences. Individuals may downplay the extent of their substance use or its impact on their life, allowing the cycle of addiction to continue.
Deteriorates Health: Denial can lead to a lack of recognition of the serious health consequences related to substance abuse. This can result in worsening physical health, including damage to vital organs, increased risk of disease, and potential overdose.
Strains Relationships: Denial can strain relationships with friends, family, and loved ones. It can cause conflicts, broken trust, and isolation, as the individual may reject concern from others or fail to acknowledge the impact of their substance use on those around them.
Hinders Professional and Academic Progress: Denial can prevent individuals from seeing the negative effects of their addiction on their work or studies. This can lead to job loss, poor academic performance, or loss of career or educational opportunities.
Interferes with Treatment: Even if an individual does seek treatment, denial can interfere with the effectiveness of the intervention. An individual in denial may be resistant to treatment strategies, less likely to engage fully in the recovery process, or more likely to relapse.