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Substance Abuse

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Defining Substance Abuse

According to an American Addiction Centers study, 3.4+ million Americans suffer from substance-related abuse per year.

Substance abuse refers to the sustained harmful use of substances for psychological effects (i.e. mood-altering). While “substances” are generally assumed to involve drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or opioids, they can also include something as simple as alcohol. The legality of a substance holds no merit in whether or not it can lead to abuse.

In fact, this abuse can even occur with legitimate prescription drugs through improper use (i.e. taking more than prescribed).

It’s also important to define the term “harmful use” in this context. Harmful use with regards to this topic includes specific symptoms such as health concerns, impaired control, disabilities, and social troubles.

Causes of a Drug Addiction

Drug addictions aren’t always caused by a particular catalyst and can sometimes include multiple factors. When these factors are activated, they lead to a prolonged addiction requiring targeted intervention.

Causes can include:

  • Environmental Factors

  • Genetics

With the environment, this generally involves one’s circumstances. For example, a person may be exposed to friends with constant access to hardcore drugs making it easier to abuse them without repercussions. While others may be influenced by continuous access to prescription drugs because of their unrelated physical illness (i.e. arthritis, migraines).

Studies have also shown issues involving one’s beliefs towards drug use playing a role in long-term abuse. This makes it easier to transition into a full-blown addiction.

The second factor involves your genetics, which influences how the body handles specific drugs. Certain individuals are prone to addictions because their genes are far more active when a substance is used.

Types of Drugs

1) Stimulants

Stimulants refer to drugs that influence a person’s central nervous system (CNS) leading to a variety of sympathomimetic effects and/or feelings of pleasure.

These can include – cocaine, amphetamines, nicotine, and methamphetamines.

2) Depressants

Depressants refer to drugs that influence a person’s neurotransmission levels leading to a sense of limited arousal/stimulation.

These can include – opioids, alcohol, cannabis, and barbiturates

3) Opium-Related Painkillers

Opium-related painkillers refer to drugs strongly used to relieve and/or suppress pain in the human body.

These can include – codeine, morphine, and heroin

4) Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens refer to drugs used to produce hallucinations, changes in emotion/consciousness, and perceptual differences.

These can include – PCP (phencyclidine), LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), and magic mushrooms (psilocybin)

Dangers of Pregnancy and Substance Abuse

Substance-related issues are high-risk in the best case scenario and get increasingly worse for pregnant women. The fetus is incapable of managing the introduction of harmful substances leading to a variety of medical concerns including birth defects and miscarriages. It’s important for expecting mothers to avoid the use of substances and to seek assistance if necessary. This can put the unborn child in harm’s way leading to a long list of medical issues down the road for both mother and baby.

How to Quit Substance Abuse

If you or someone you cherish is suffering from substance abuse, then we encourage you take the first step to recovery by contacting the substance abuse counselors here at One Love Services. We’re conveniently located in Charlotte, NC and Morganton, NC. Our substance abuse counselors are not here to judge you. They are simply here to make sure that you know there’s someone skilled with this subject whose in your corner. You don’t have to go through this process alone or uncertain. There’s always someone here for you at One Love Service who is eager to help you on the road to an overall healthier you.

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