Addiction, formally known as substance use disorder (SUD), occurs when someone's use of a substance (drug or alcohol) causes health problems and problems at work, school, or home. Other commonly associated terms include substance abuse, drug abuse, and drug use disorder.
A common sign of SUD is when someone is unable to stop using a substance despite the adverse consequences. This could mean neglecting daily responsibilities, ruining relationships to obtain/use substances, and driving under the influence, among others.
Someone struggling with a substance use disorder may also develop distorted thinking and behaviors. Drugs change the chemistry of the brain over time, resulting in personality changes, abnormal movements, intense drug cravings, and other behaviors.
In addition, when someone has a substance use disorder, they build up a tolerance to the substance, which means they need larger amounts of it to feel the effects. This increases the risk of overdose and feeds their addiction further.
Long-term substance use changes brain chemical systems and circuits that affect functions like:
The most common substance use disorders (SUDs) include:
The symptoms of substance use disorder vary depending on the drug being misused. However, some of the most common universal symptoms of addiction include:
Anyone is at risk of developing a substance use disorder. However, specific factors can increase this risk even more. These include:
If a family member or loved one is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, you'll want to get them into rehab before it's too late.
About 76 percent of alcohol rehab patients who successfully complete treatment report sobriety at three months, and about 69 percent state that they’re still sober at six months. Between 85 and 95 percent of people who successfully complete drug rehab report still being abstinent nine months after discharge.
Here are three tips to help get someone into rehab who doesn’t want to go:
What's best for one person may not be best for someone else. There are several factors that will determine what type of treatment program is best, including:
Some common treatments for substance use disorder include:
Browse the articles below to learn more about addiction and how it can affect anyone, no matter their age, situation, or lifestyle:
The rate of addiction in adults over 50 has been rising for years. Experts estimate that nearly 7 million elderly Americans will have a substance use disorder (SUD) by 2020. Alcohol remains the most commonly abused substance, but other drugs such as opioids, prescription medications, and marijuana are widely abused by the elderly.
Substance abuse has been linked to higher divorce rates in the US. If one or both people in a marriage suffer from substance use disorders (SUD), it is likely to have serious adverse effects on their relationship. Addiction can also impact the legal proceedings of a divorce.
Addiction is linked to domestic violence in multiple ways. It tends to occur more often and escalate faster if the abuser has a substance use disorder (SUD). Victims of domestic violence are also more likely to develop a drug or alcohol problem.
While addiction is a chronic disease that affects members of all socioeconomic statuses, rates of substance use disorders (SUD) and alcohol use disorders (AUD) are higher among low-income communities. Living in a lower-income community exposes people to more risk factors, making it harder to avoid and overcome drug or alcohol problems.
Drug and alcohol abuse and addiction is a huge problem in American colleges. Students, faculty, and parents need to work together to educate each other and decrease risk factors on campuses.
The terms “abuse and addiction” are often used interchangeably. However, they actually mean very different things. Learn more about college drug abuse and addiction here.
There is evidence that supports the connection between disability and addiction. However, the relationship is complex and nuanced. People who live with one or more disabilities face many challenges that may increase their risk of addiction.
The majority of food-related disorders happen between the ages of 18 and 21. College students face a tremendous amount of stress and pressure that often leads to mental and physical health disorders.
Both homelessness and addiction affect alarming numbers of Americans. The two issues are deeply linked. Addiction can be either the cause or the effect of homelessness.
Prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol is the number one preventable cause of congenital disabilities (birth defects), abnormalities, and developmental disabilities in the U.S. There is no confirmed “safe” amount of alcohol to consume during pregnancy.
In recent years there has been a trend in college and high school students to abuse prescription stimulants in an effort to gain an educational advantage. Common “study aids” include Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, Vyvanse, and Dexedrine.
Pain is one of the most common symptoms during and after cancer treatment. It takes careful monitoring and honest and open communication between patients and doctors to manage pain and avoid addiction.
Drug and alcohol abuse is a huge factor in fraternities and sororities in the U.S. Alcohol and date rape drugs are two of the most significant issues. Nearly half of all residential fraternity members report alcohol use disorder (AUD) symptoms by age 35.
Most teenagers are exposed to drugs and alcohol before they graduate high school. While most teenagers who experiment with drugs and alcohol won’t go on to develop an addiction, the risks are high and the consequences can be quite severe.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community face a variety of serious challenges that their straight peers do not. Unfortunately, this often increases the risk factors that they are exposed to. This is likely part of the reason drug and alcohol use is higher among the queer community.
Rates of substance use disorders (SUD) and alcohol use disorders (AUD) are much higher among military veterans than their civilian counterparts. Many conflict veterans have PTSD, which is also linked to drug and alcohol problems.
You don’t have to overcome your addiction alone. Professional guidance and support is available. Begin a life of recovery by reaching out to a specialist today.
McLellan, A Thomas. “Substance Misuse and Substance use Disorders: Why do they Matter in Healthcare?.” Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association vol. 128 (2017): 112-130, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5525418/.
NIDA. "Common Comorbidities with Substance Use Disorders." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1 Apr. 2020, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/common-comorbidities-substance-use-disorders.
SAMHSA. "Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders." Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 13 Apr. 2019, www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disorders.
Agrawal, Arpana, et al. "DSM-IV to DSM-5: the impact of proposed revisions on diagnosis of alcohol use disorders." Addiction, vol. 106, no. 11, 2011, pp. 1935-1943, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21631621/.
"NIMH » Substance Use and Mental Health." National Institute of Mental Health, May 2016, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/substance-use-and-mental-health/index.shtml.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Understanding Drug Use and Addiction DrugFacts.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 19 June 2020, www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction.