What is a substance use disorder? And how can I get help if I think I’m struggling with one? Here at the Footprints of Serenity, we feel it’s important to educate the public on what a substance use disorder is and how to treat one. Substance use disorders are often thought of as a lack of self control, which isn’t true. Addiction and substance use disorders go beyond the scope of “being lazy” or not wanting to stop just because. 


Substance Use Disorder Definition

According to the National Institute of Health, a substance can be defined as any type of psychoactive compound. This substance can cause health and social problems that include addiction (NIH). The substance can be legal such as alcohol, nicotine, tobacco, or illegal such as  cocaine, cannabinoids, heroin, etc. The substance can also be controlled which basically means prescribed for medical purposes (such as vicodin, oxycontin, benzodiazepines, etc.). 

Any of these substances, including many more, can be used in high doses and inappropriately, which can lead to different health and social problems. This misuse of these substances can be repeated in higher doses, and can cause all kinds of problems and diagnosable illnesses. This is called substance use disorder. Substance abuse disorder is when an individual misuses a substance to the point where it becomes an addiction with health consequences.  


Different Types of Substance Use Disorders

There are many different types of substance use disorders that stem from many different substances. Substance abuse can contribute to co-occurring disorders, substance-induced disorders, and much more. According to the National Institute of Health, there are toxic effects that stem from substances which can mimic mental illness, so it is difficult to distinguish substance abuse from mental illness at some points. Below we have provided some of the substances and how they contribute to substance abuse disorder.


  • Alcohol – Individuals who suffer from alcohol abuse experience things such as euphoria, decreased impulse control, and even increase social confidence. Some of these symptoms may seem to be “hypomanic” (NIH). But these hypomanic symptoms are often followed with things such as fatigue, nausea, and a hangover (otherwise known as dysphoria) (NIH). As time goes on the addiction will get worse and will lead to agitation, anxiety, hyperreflexia, violence, and so much more.
  • Caffeine – Although caffeine isn’t the worst thing to be addicted to, when consumed in large quantities it can cause mild to moderate anxiety. Caffeine can also cause a number of panic attacks in individuals who are predisposed to them (NIH).
  • Cocaine and Amphetamines – At first these drugs may help an individual to experience things such as euphoria, a sense of well-being, and even increased thought or strength. But as time moves on and doses increase, the chance of dangerous impulsive behaviors increase as well (NIH). These dangerous behaviors include things such as violence, promiscuous sexual activity, and temporary paranoid delusional states.
  • Hallucinogens – These drugs help individuals to produce visual distortions and hallucinations. Hallucinogens are also associated with drug-induced panic, delusional states, and paranoia. Individuals who partake in hallucinogens may also experience chronic disorders and reactions such as, depression, exacerbation of pre-existing mental disorders, and flashbacks (NIH).
  • Opioids – At first opioids can cause an intense euphoria and sense of well-being. As a drug gets more and more abused individuals will experience things such as severe body aches, agitation, gastrointestinal systems, cravings, and dysphoria (NIH).
  • Nicotine – individuals who seem to be dependent on nicotine are more likely to experience depression than those who are not addicted to it (NIH). Although correlation doesn’t equal causation.


The above mentioned are a few of the substances that can be misused and abused. However this does not mean that an individual can not overcome these substances. Substance use disorder is most certainly treatable. It is important to be positive and remember that these substances are not who you are. Anyone can overcome something as long as they put in the effort and are willing to get better and to succeed in the process. Remember that recovery is not an end point but it is a lifelong journey that leads to so much more satisfaction.


How to Get Help With a Substance Use Disorder

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution for a substance use disorder treatment. There has been evidence that shows that some people have a genetic predisposition to substance abuse disorders, co-occurring disorders, and mental health disorders. Some individuals’ environment gives them a higher risk for substance disorders as well. 


It’s important that those suffering from substance use disorders receive treatment as soon as possible. It is also important that these individuals have a secure and healthy support system. There are support groups not only for individuals but also for the whole family, this may improve the treatment effectiveness because every family member is supporting this person while being on the same level as this person. It is important for friends and family members to connect with the individual who is suffering from a substance use disorder, and help them to get treatment and to stay sober. Finding treatment is crucial within the recovery process. There are many different treatments that an individual can go through including inpatient and outpatient treatment.


Let Footprints of Serenity Help You

Reach out to use today at  Footprints of Serenity for more information regarding substance use disorder. Were dedicated to helping any and all suffering from addiction. Our staff is a team of experts who understand the ins and outs of addiction. Our services include drug interventions, recovery companion, recovery coach, relapse prevention, detox placement, and more. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, we’re here to help.

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