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Substance abuse is a blanket term that is used to describe dependence on alcohol, illegal drugs, as well as certain prescription drugs. The physical dependence, abuse of and withdrawal from drugs and alcohol is outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Its’ section called “Substance Dependence” begins:

“When an individual persists in use of alcohol or other drugs despite problems related to use of the substance, substance dependence may be diagnosed. Compulsive and repetitive use may result in tolerance to the effect of the drug and withdrawal symptoms when use is reduced or stopped. These, along with Substance Abuse are considered Substance Use Disorders.”

There are also definite psychological and social consequences associated with substance uses. Studies have shown that the psychological dependency on drugs or alcohol is sometimes more complex than the physical addiction. Psychological addiction symptoms include intense cravings, irritability, insomnia, depression and anxiety.

For some people, it’s difficult to determine if there is a true addiction involved or if their drug and/or alcohol use is social. Everyone behaves slightly different in addiction. Answering the following questions may help to determine an addiction:

Has your use of drugs or alcohol increased over time?
BR> When you stop using, have you ever experienced physical or emotional withdrawal? Have you had any of the following symptoms: irritability, anxiety, shakes, sweats, nausea, or vomiting?

Do you sometimes use more or for a longer time than you would like? Does one drink lead to more drinks?

Have you continued to use even though there have been negative consequences to your mood, self-esteem, health, job, or family?

Have you spent a significant amount of time obtaining, using, concealing, planning, or recovering from your use? Have you ever concealed or minimized your use? Have you ever thought of schemes to avoid getting caught?

Have you sometimes thought about cutting down or controlling your use, but have been unsuccessful at your attempts to do so?

Do you get Annoyed at criticism of your drinking or drug use?

Do you ever feel Guilty about your drinking or drug use?

Do you ever take an Early-morning drink (eye-opener) or use drugs first thing in the morning ("a little hair of the dog that bit you") to get the day started or eliminate the "shakes"?

Help is available in the form of drug and alcohol rehab. These groups are voluntary associations of caring, friendly people who share a common desire to help individuals overcome an addiction. There are different groups that use different methods that range from completely secular to explicitly spiritual. Many individuals find success with twelve-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. For help, contact your family physician, a local drug or alcohol rehab center or call:
The Alcohol & Drug Addiction Resource Center 1-800-390-4056


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