Substance use disorders may be more common than most people would expect. Research has found that 1 in 7 Americans over the age of 12 has experienced a substance use disorder. When someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, they often will continue to use the drug despite the harm it causes. While a substance abuse disorder can often start with experimental use of a recreational drug in a social setting or from taking a prescription medication for an extended period of time, it can quickly get out of control. To learn more about how substance abuse can lead to a disorder, read below.


What is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse is the repeated use of any substance, such as drugs and alcohol. These substances may be legal, prescription drugs, or banned substances. Substance abuse occurs when the individual uses the substance in a way that it was not recommended to be used or when they are taking more than the prescribed dosage. Substance abuse can cause several issues for an individual, including sickness, loss of self-control, social problems, and ignoring their daily responsibilities.


What are the Symptoms?

Individuals who abuse substances may experience several different symptoms, including behavioral changes, physical changes, and social changes. Symptoms of substance abuse may include:

  • Behavioral Changes, such as: 

    • Lack of motivation
    • Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts
    • Changes in appetite or sleeping pattern
    • Feelings of fear, anxiety, or paranoia, with no reason
    • Drop in attendance and performance at school or work
    • Frequently getting into trouble
    • Engaging in suspicious or secretive behaviors


  • Physical Changes, such as: 

    • Deterioration of physical appearance
    • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
    • Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination
    • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing
    • Bloodshot eyes and/or abnormally sized pupils


  • Social Changes, such as:

    • Legal or financial problems related to substance use
    • Sudden change in friends, hobbies, or favorite hangouts
    • Unexplained need for money
    • Continuing to use substances even though it is causes a major strain on your relationships


What is Substance Use Disorder?

Substance use disorders (SUDs) are treatable, chronic diseases characterized by a problematic pattern of use of a substance or substances leading to impairments in health, social function, and control over substance use. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SUDs occur when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically significant impairment, including health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home. 

The most common types of SUDs in the United States involve the use of 1 or more of the following substances: 

  • Alcohol – Hallucinogens
  • Opioids – Cannabis
  • Stimulants – Tobacco


How Does Substance Abuse Lead to a Disorder?

Substance abuse and how it happens can vary from person to person. For some individuals, they may start by simply using recreational drugs, such as marijuana, in a social setting. For others, especially those addicted to opioids, it begins when they take prescribed medications. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are a variety of reasons that people begin taking drugs, including:

  • Feelings of pleasure, “high” or “intoxication”
  • To relieve stress, forget problems, or feel numb
  • To improve performance or thinking
  • Curiosity and peer pressure

As time goes on, those who abuse substances usually build up a tolerance to their substance of choice, meaning that they need larger amounts to feel the effects. Soon, they may even need the substance just to feel good. As the substance use increases, it often becomes increasingly difficult to go without it, leading to a substance abuse disorder.


Start Your Road to Recovery Today

If you still aren’t sure about how the recovery process works, no need to worry. Here at Palmetto Addiction Recovery Center, we understand how nerve-wracking or intimidating it can be to start your addiction recovery journey and our team of professionals is here to help! Our recovery centers offer several different recovery programs to choose from, including residential treatment, professionals program, medical detox, intensive outpatient treatment, relapse track, 3-day evaluation, and a family program. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance addiction, call our office today at 318-728-2970!