Substance use disorders

Substance Use Disorders

One of the issues that treatment programs in Dedham, MA, routinely deal with is substance use disorders. A substance use disorder is a complex condition involving a pattern of substance use, often to alter mood or behavior. SUD is a treatable issue that ranges in intensity from mild use to severe, at which point we say the subject has an addiction. Anyone who suspects they or a loved one has developed a substance use disorder must seek professional assistance.

What Is Substance Use Disorder?

Substance use disorder (SUD) is uncontrolled substance use regardless of the consequences. People with SUD in Dedham, MA, are intensely focused on using one or more substances, affecting their ability to function within their daily routine. Even when the person becomes aware the substance is causing or could cause problems, they continue to use it. In layperson’s terms, a SUD is what we typically refer to as an addiction.

Often, those with SUD have distorted ways of thinking and behaving. Using their substance of choice causes changes in the brain’s structure and function. These changes can cause such symptoms as intense cravings, abnormal movements, changes in personality, and other out-of-the-ordinary behaviors. When their brains are studied using images, we often find that there have been changes in the portions of the brain that control judgment, learning, memory, decision-making, and behavior control.

Repeatedly using a substance can eventually change how the brain functions. These changes can last quite some time after the intoxicated feeling wears off. When a person feels the effects of intoxication, they feel euphoric, calm, intense pleasure, and have an increased sense of perception caused by whatever substance they use. Symptoms of intoxication are different for each substance.

What Substances Can Lead to Substance Use Disorder?

For the substance use disorder definition, a substance is a drug that can potentially lead to addiction. These substances can be prescription drugs or non-medical substances or drugs. The list of potentially addictive substances includes the following:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Hallucinogens (LSD, PCP)
  • Sedatives, hypnotics, anxiolytics (anti-anxiety drugs), including benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and sleeping pills
  • Inhalants like aerosol sprays, gases, paint thinners, and nitrites (poppers)
  • Prescription and non-prescription opioids, including heroin, oxycodone, and codeine
  • Prescription and non-prescription stimulants like methamphetamine, cocaine, and Adderall
  • Tobacco and nicotine found in cigarettes and electronic cigarettes (including vapes)

Each of these substances produces a different effect, but they all activate the brain’s pleasure center, causing the person to feel rewarded when they use them. They also vary in the likelihood of causing SUD. This likelihood is also called addiction liability and depends on several factors.

Is There a Difference Between Substance Use and Substance Use Disorder?

Substance use is occasional periods of using a substance. For instance, drinking a few beers while watching a ballgame with friends would be substance use. However, when that use becomes a chronic, habitual pattern, such as getting drunk every night after work, the person has developed a substance use disorder. With some substances, even a few use episodes can lead to tolerance and dependence on the substance.

A substance use disorder ranges from mild to severe, with addiction being the most severe substance use disorder found in Dedham, MA. People with substance use disorder (SUD) continue using a substance disregarding any negative consequences because the brain’s pleasure center takes over and causes them to compulsively seek the substance of choice.