Substance Abuse

Maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress

Manifested by one or more of the following, occurring within a twelvemonth period:

• recurrent substance use resulting in failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home

• recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous

• recurrent substance-related legal problems

• continued substance use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance (such as arguments with spouse about consequences of intoxication, physical fights)

Criteria for Substance Dependence not met for this class of substance and has coupled such relief in some cases with feelings of euphoria. It is not surprising, therefore, that substance abuse, dependence, and other behaviors with addictive characteristics can develop so readily in so many organisms.

The effects of typical representatives of the major categories of abused substances can be predicted. Alcohol can disrupt several behavioral functions. It can slow reaction time, movement, and thought processes and can interfere with needed rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. It can also produce unpredictable emotionality, including violence. Those who abuse alcohol may go on to develop the symptoms of physiological dependence (a condition where tolerance or withdrawal are present) and may develop the full diagnosis of alcohol dependence, and it is important to note that the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. Heroin, an opioid, has analgesic (pain-killing) and euphoriant effects. It is also highly addictive, but withdrawal seldom results in death. Marijuana, sometimes classified as a sedative, sometimes as a hallucinogen, has many of the same behavioral effects as alcohol.

Stimulants vary widely in their behavioral effects. Common to all is some form of physiological and behavioral stimulation. Some, such as cocaine and the amphetamines (including crystal methamphetamine), are extremely addictive and seriously life-threatening and can produce violence. Others, such as caffeine, are relatively mild in their euphoriant effects. Withdrawal from stimulants, especially the powerful forms, can result in profound depression.

Hallucinogens are a diverse group of substances that can produce visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or gustatory hallucinations, but most do so in only a small percentage of the population. Some, such as PCP, can produce violent behavior, while others, such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), are not known for producing negative emotional outbursts. Inhalants usually produce feelings of euphoria; they are most often used by individuals in their adolescent years who cannot afford to buy other types of drugs such as marijuana, as well as by adult individuals who have easy access to these substances in their work environments or social circles.

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