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 happens when a person overdosed on fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is used medically to treat severe pain, but its potent nature also makes it dangerous when misused or taken in excessive amounts. When a person overdoses on fentanyl, several life-threatening symptoms and complications can occur:
- Respiratory depression: One of the most critical effects of a fentanyl overdose is severe respiratory depression, which occurs when the drug suppresses the brain's ability to control breathing. This can lead to slow, shallow, or irregular breathing, or even cause the person to stop breathing altogether, which can be fatal.
- Unconsciousness: A fentanyl overdose can cause the person to lose consciousness or become unresponsive. In this state, the individual is at a higher risk of choking or suffering from positional asphyxia if they are in an awkward position that restricts their breathing.
- Constricted pupils: An overdose may result in pinpoint pupils, also known as miosis, which is a common sign of opioid intoxication.
- Cyanosis: Due to the lack of oxygen resulting from respiratory depression, the person's skin, lips, and nails may develop a bluish tint, which is called cyanosis.
- Low blood pressure: A fentanyl overdose can lead to a significant drop in blood pressure (hypotension), which may result in dizziness, fainting, or shock.
- Slow or weak pulse: The person's heart rate may become slow or weak, further contributing to the risk of life-threatening complications.
- Muscle rigidity: In some cases, a fentanyl overdose can cause muscle stiffness or rigidity, particularly in the chest and abdominal muscles, which can make it even more difficult to breathe.
- Seizures: Although less common, a fentanyl overdose may also cause seizures in some individuals.
- Coma or death: In severe cases, a fentanyl overdose can lead to coma or death due to respiratory failure, lack of oxygen, or other complications.
If you suspect someone is experiencing a fentanyl overdose, it is crucial to call emergency medical services immediately. Administering naloxone, an opioid antagonist, can temporarily reverse the effects of the overdose, but multiple doses may be needed due to fentanyl's potency. It is essential to note that naloxone is not a substitute for professional medical care, and the person must still receive prompt medical attention to address any underlying complications and ensure proper treatment.
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.