substance use disorder

Substance use disorder: Management & Treatment

Drug addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is a disease that affects a person’s brain and actions. This leads to an inability to control the use of legal or illegal substances or drugs. Although drugs such as alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine can be very harmful. When you have an addiction, you may continue to use the drug despite the damage it creates.

Drug use can begin with the experimental use of recreational drugs in social situations. And for certain people, drug use is becoming more common. For some, particularly with opioids, drug addiction starts with exposure to prescribed medications. But for others, maybe obtaining medicine from a friend or family prescribed the medication.

What Is Substance Use Disorder?

A substance use disorder means someone has a series of symptoms linked to drugs and alcohol’s problematic use. As a result, continued usage can disrupt one’s thoughts, behavior, and general physical well-being. But suppose a person’s desire to continue to use drugs and alcohol is strong. Then they can compromise values and morality and sacrifice primary affairs. Also, addiction to a drug has strong physical and mental control over a person.

How many people get treatment for Substance Use Disorder?

According to the National Drug Use and Health Study of SAMHSA, 22.5 million people (8.5% of the U.S. population) aged 12 or older needed treatment for illicit substances or alcohol use in 2014. Just 4.2 million (18.5% of those who needed care) received any drug use treatment in the same year. Of these, about 2.6 million people obtained treatment in specialty treatment facilities (CBHSQ, 2015).

The word “illicit” refers to the use of illegal substances. This includes marijuana under federal law and the abuse of prescription drugs.

Diagnosis of substance use disorder

Substance use disorder requires a detailed evaluation. Therefore, it often includes an assessment by a doctor, a physician, a licensed alcohol consultant, and a drug counselor. Blood, urine, or other medical procedures may measure the use of drugs, although they are not diagnostic tests for addiction. However, these tests can be used to track treatment and recovery.

Most mental health professionals use guidelines in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association to diagnose substance use disorder.

What are treatments for Substance Use Disorder?

Nevertheless, there are many treatments for treating substance use disorder. Treatment can help, even in case of serious illness. You will also receive a combination of these therapies:

1. Detoxification

The purpose of detoxification, also referred to as “detox” or withdrawal treatment, is to enable you as quickly and effectively as possible to avoid using the addictive drug. But for certain patients, detox treatment can be safe on an outpatient basis. However, others may need a referral to a hospital or a residential rehab center.

Withdrawal from various types of drugs—such as depressants, stimulants, or opioids—produces different adverse effects that need different approaches. Hence detox may involve a gradual reduction in the drug dosage. Or detox may be a temporary substitution of other substances, such as: 

  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Or a mixture of buprenorphine and naloxone

2. Opioid overdose

In the case of an overdose of an opioid, naloxone, an opioid antagonist can be delivered by first responders. Naloxone reverses the symptoms of opioid drugs on a reversible basis.

Evzio is a small injecting device that gives voice feedback to the patient. And it automatically inserts the needle into the thigh to deliver the naloxone injection. Whatever the method of treatment, obtain immediate medical treatment after using naloxone.

3. Behavior therapy

As part of a drug treatment program, behavioral therapy—a type of psychotherapy—can be administered by a psychologist or psychiatrist. Or you can obtain help from licensed alcohol and drug counselor. Therapy and counseling may be conducted for an individual, a family, or a group. Therapist or counselor may:

  • Help you discover ways to deal with your drug cravings.
  • Recommend methods to avoid and prevent relapse of drugs
  • Offer to advise on how to cope with a relapse if it occurs
  • Talk about problems relating to your job, legal issues, and family and friend’s relationships.
  • Include family members to help them develop stronger communication skills and encourage them;

4. Self-help groups

Many, but not all, self-help support groups use the 12-step program first developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. Self-help groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, help individuals who are addicted to drugs.

Although a therapist or certified psychologist will help you find a self-help support group. But you can still find one in your neighborhood or on the Internet, you can also find support groups.

What medications are used to help with substance use disorder?

Medication should be part of a treatment plan. Your medical provider will find out the best medications for you. Medication-assisted treatments for:

  • Opioids: Methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are FDA approved for treatment for Drug Use Disorder.
  • Alcohol: Three FDA-approved drugs are naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram (Antabuse®).
  • Tobacco: A nicotine patch, mist, gum, or lozenge can help. Or your doctor may prescribe bupropion (Wellbutrin®) or varenicline (Chantix®).

Is treatment for Substance Use Disorder inpatient or outpatient?

Inpatient and outpatient care plans are available, depending on your needs. Treatment includes group counseling sessions that occur weekly for three months to one year.

Inpatient therapy can include:

  • Hospitalization
  • Therapeutic communities or sober homes that are tightly controlled, drug-free environments

Self-help programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous will help you in the path to recovery. Self-help groups are also available to members of the family, including Al-Anon and Nar-Anon Family Groups. Participation in 12-step treatment work has been found to improve outcomes.

How to prevent substance use disorder?

Preventing drug dependency begins with education. Education in classrooms, neighbourhoods, and households helps prevent the drug from being misused for the first time. Other ways to avoid drug use disorders:

  • Don’t try any illegal drugs, not once
  • Follow the directions for prescription drugs. Don’t ever take more than you have instructed. Opioid addiction, for instance, can begin five days later.
  • Provision of unused prescriptions in a timely way to mitigate the chances of misuse by others.

The Bottom Line

Most people have both mental health and substance use disorders. Often there’s a mental illness before the addiction occurs. But for others, addiction induces or worsens a mental health condition. When both illnesses are properly treated, the chances of recovery will increase.

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