What Are Substance Use Disorders?
Substance use disorders happen when drug and/or alcohol use create impairment, such as health problems, disability and failure to meet tasks at school, home or work. Nearly one in ten Americans aged 12 and older have a classifiable substance use disorder (8.1% in 2014). In order from most to least people affected, people suffered from problems with alcohol only, problems with drugs but not alcohol and problems with both alcohol and drugs.
What’s Concerning About Substance Use Disorders
Substance use disorders are concerning because they often coexist with a mental health disorder. The most popular age group where people with coexisting mental health and substance use disorder fall is middle-aged or persons between the ages of 26 to 49. Young people between the ages 18 to 25 also constitute the age group most likely to experience serious mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders. When treating substance use disorders that coexist with mental illness, it is imperative that treatment engages both disorders.
Common Types of Substance Use Disorders
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
As of 2014, more than half of Americans (176.6 million people) ages 12 and up reported being current alcohol consumers. A smaller fraction is said to have an alcohol use disorder—only 17 million people.
Alcohol consumption starts early. In 2012, one in four eighth graders and more than half of all twelfth graders used alcohol in the past year.
Different drinking patterns exist, each defined according to different regulatory/agency guidelines:
- Moderate Drinking is up to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
- Binge Drinking is drinking 5 or more drinks on the same day at least 1 day in the past month (SAMHSA) or drinking that produces a BAC of greater than 0.08 g/dL (greater than 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men over 2 hours).
- Heavy Drinking is drinking 5 or more drinks on the same day (binge drinking) but on 5 or more days in the past month.
The consequences of excessive intake include developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD), which include diagnostic criteria such as problems controlling alcohol intake, sustained alcohol use despite alcohol-related problems, tolerance development, drinking that creates risky situations or withdrawal symptoms. An AUD can be mild, moderate or severe depending on the number of criteria met.
Tobacco Use Disorder
Tobacco use kills 480,000 people each year due to tobacco-related deaths (according to the CDC). Tobacco use and smoking damage nearly every organ and lead to respiratory disorders, lung cancer, stroke, heart disease and other illnesses. Current tobacco use varies by racial group; from most to least affected are American Indians/Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians/other Pacific Islanders, whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians. In 2014, 66.9 million Americans aged 12 or older were current tobacco users, one in four people. The most affected age group are young people between 18 and 25 (35%). A shocking 7% of children between ages 12 and 17 are using.
Cannabis Use Disorder
Marijuana is the third most imbibed drug in the US following alcohol and tobacco. In 2014, about 22.2 million Americans used in the past month alone. Symptoms of cannabis use disorder include disruptions in functioning, tolerance development, cannabis cravings and withdrawal symptoms, including sleeplessness, restlessness, anger, nervousness or depression.
Stimulant Use Disorder
Stimulants, historically used to treat a wide variety of medical conditions (such as obesity, ADHD and depression), constitute their own disorder. Most commonly abused stimulants are amphetamines, methamphetamine and cocaine. In 2014, nearly 1 million people ages 12 and older had a cocaine-related disorder, while under half a million people experienced a stimulant use disorder related to methamphetamine and stimulants besides methamphetamine, respectively. The signs of stimulant use disorder include stimulants craving, failure to control use, sustained use despite interference with significant obligations, use of more over time, tolerance, spending time obtaining and using them and withdrawal, including fatigue, sleep problems, increased appetite, vivid dreams or movement-related problems.
Hallucinogen Use Disorder
Hallucinogens are drugs that produce both auditory and visual hallucinations, a sense of detachment from oneself/one’s environment and time/perception distortions. In 2014, a quarter of a million Americans had a hallucinogen use disorder. Symptoms of a hallucinogen use disorder include hallucinogen cravings, continued use despite their impact on social functioning, use in risky situations, tolerance and spending time to acquire and use them.
Opioid Use Disorder
Opioids are drugs that suppress the perception of pain but also create mental confusion, drowsiness, euphoria, constipation and nausea. Methods for imbibing are varied, with snorting or injecting being more dangerous pathways. Buying off the street can be dangerous due to mixing of other drugs with heroin, such as fentanyl (50-100 times stronger than morphine). Nearly 2 million Americans in 2014 had an opioid use disorder due to prescription pain relievers, while half a million had one related to heroin use. Symptoms of an opioid use disorder include the following: opioid cravings, inability to control or reduce use, sustained use despite interference with life tasks, use of bigger amounts over time, tolerance, working on obtaining it and withdrawal, such as nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, diarrhea, insomnia, fever and negative mood.
We’re Here to Help.
Whether you think you have a substance use disorder or you are concerned about a loved one, you should come in for a substance abuse screening at Access Counseling Group. Your health and the wellbeing of your family depends on you stepping up and making the change you need in order to push your family toward a healthier, happier life. We offer several therapies including family therapy, individual therapy and group counseling. What’s more, our approach to substance use disorder Plano and Frisco is never the same for every affected individual. In order to truly heal the person, we must address the co-occurring disorder(s) as well as the general motivation for pursuing drugs and/or alcohol in the first place. We have helped hundreds of people heal from the devastating effects of substance use disorder, and we can help you too. If you have any questions about our programs, please contact us.