Recognizing substance use disorder
Has your loved one turned into somebody you don’t even recognize?
Have they lied or stolen from you and seem to always find an excuse or explanation? Are you worried that the last time you say goodbye could be the last time? Do you want to get help for them to try to save their life?
This is a gut-wrenching, harrowing experience for the person suffering from substance abuse disorder, as well as their loved ones. It’s easy to wonder, “why won’t they just stop doing this”? If only it was that simple…
Opioids are powerful drugs that affect the entire body. They are prescription medications used for a variety of reasons including pain control and severe coughing. Some common names of prescription opioid medications include Hydrocodone or Vicodin, Lortab, or Lorcet. Oxycodone, Percocet OxyContin or Percodan. Dilaudid, Darvocet, Darvon, Fentanyl and Morphine.
The dangers of opioid use include a high abuse potential with a strong risk for dependence. People sometimes self-medicate to get a feeling of euphoria and to get high. This can lead to increasing dependence on the drug both psychologically and physically. As dependence and tolerance grow, people may resort to stealing other medications, buying from drug dealers, or moving to a more potent, less expensive option such as heroin and now street fentanyl. If the drug is stopped, severe withdrawal sickness can occur. They no longer take it to get high but simply to feel normal and avoid “dope sickness”.
When addiction occurs, changes take place in the brain. The desire for a euphoric feeling leads to eventual physical dependence. The brain has been hijacked, no longer having control over the situation.
Some of the hallmarks of substance use disorders are:
- Loss of control resulting in continued compulsive use.
- Physical degeneration from poor hygiene and lack of nutrition.
- A “worn” or haggard appearance.
- A changing group of friends or associates.
- Loss of interest in previous hobbies or passions.
- Personality changes (irritable, argumentative).
Craving the drug so badly that the overwhelming desire supersedes lifelong morals and behavior patterns. The individual will risk their health and well-being and go to any lengths to get the drug including lying, stealing, and other illegal activities in order to support their habit.
Substance use disorder is a chronic disease much like heart disease or diabetes. It can be successfully managed with the ability to regain a healthy and productive life. Treatment is life-saving and requires commitment from the person with substance use disorder. Physicians who specialize in substance-abuse treatment are a good place to start, they help the patient get through withdrawal, cope with cravings, as well as direct them to ongoing supportive care that will address underlying issues contributing to the disease, such as feelings of low self-worth, boredom, bad home life, and associating with people who abuse drugs.
Thankfully, there is hope! Compassionate, comprehensive treatment is available through Direct2Recovery. Call us today!