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What Is Substance Abuse?

Just Believe Recovery | What Is Substance Abuse?

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Following is a discussion of behaviors associated with substance use, including behaviors which either put the individual at high risk for abuse, hint at probable abuse, or indicate a mood disorder associated with abuse.

What is substance abuse risk behavior?

Substance abuse risk behavior is a set of characteristics that are common among those who engage in substance abuse currently or are likely in the future. These are not merely risk factors per se; they are directly related to the individual’s behavior and social experiences/interactions which may have contributed. For example, genetics or substance availability would not be included here.

  • Appears lonely, withdrawn, or generally apathetic
  • Displays of depression, anxiety, or other mental illness
  • A family member (likely a parent) with whom the person has an extensive personal history engages in substance use (past or present)
  • Showing signs of family disconnectedness, lacking familial attachments
  • Appears stressed out, under pressure, or out of control
  • Prior history of substance use, especially at an early age
  • Has witnessed or speaks of past trauma, physical or sexual abuse

In the case of youth, a peer element may also be at play – such as if teen perceives using as “cool” or believes/knows their friends are using – “Everyone is doing it” mentality.

What is substance abuse behavior?

Substance abuse behavior may also be considered addiction behaviors. Simply speaking, they are behaviors that may indicate an individual is abusing/addicted to some substance. They include any or all of the following:

  • Apparent personality change with no other discernible cause
  • Negative chances in performance at work, school, or in home life activities
  • Engages in habitual dishonesty, makes excuses for behavior
  • Appears lazy or unmotivated, apathetic
  • Expresses paranoia and/or bizarre thoughts and behavior
  • Exhibits moodiness, anxiety, or nervousness
  • Acts secretive, disappears, and/or is hard to contact
  • Begins stealing or seems desperate for money
  • Exhibit changes in friends, hangouts, social life, etc.
  • Presents negative changes in personal hygiene/general appearance

Also included are signs of intoxication, such as:

Hyperactivity, manic effects such as loud/rapid talking, loss of appetite, weight loss, insomnia
Slurred speech, stumbling/poor motor skills, poor judgment, excessive sleeping

What is substance abuse mood disorder?

Substance abuse mood disorder is an emotional/behavioral disorder brought on by a dependence or addiction to a substance, including cigarettes, alcohol, toxins, illegal drugs, and prescription drugs. A person may present with this disorder during use, withdrawal, or recovery.

Typically, substance abuse mood disorder manifests itself as similar to bipolar disorder The patient may feel either (a) depressed, moody, and uninterested in former pleasurable activities; or (b) euphoric and elated (manic) or irritable.

It is generally an up or down effect of the drug, depending on whether the drug is a stimulant or depressant. During withdrawal, the opposite is likely to occur. For example, someone withdrawing from amphetamines is likely to feel depressed, apathetic, and lethargic. On the flip side, someone retreating from alcohol may feel animated and hyperactive, but also possibly anxious and irritable.

If you suspect that you or someone you know is addicted to drugs or alcohol, please seek help immediately.

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