Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse Disorder


The prevalence of the condition in our society




Substance abuse disorder can mean many things including the abuse of any medications that was prescribed by the doctor over a longer period than prescribed or the use of illegally obtained heroin, alcohol or other drugs and become addicted to it.


Substance Abuse Disorder is typically a chronic, recurring, and relapsing illness, with high rates of morbidity and mortality.


The United States has had a confusing history when it comes to drugs. In 1970 there was a war against drugs which was implemented by prison sentences against drug dealers and drug abusers. But gradually drugs were being legalized in many states, and now we are facing an ongoing nationwide opioid overdose epidemic.


Stating the statistics of 2018, there were around 46,802 mortalities from opioid overdose in the United States. In the United States, 5.7 million people in 2019 reported to have used heroin once in their lives; 431,000 (0.2 percent) confessed that they used it in the last month.


From 2002 to 2018, the use of heroin and consequently the heroin use disorder approximately doubled. In 2018 nearly 15,000 deaths were reported due to heroin overdose. (Strain et al., 2015).


Most commonly abused substances include Alcohol, CNS Depressants, Cocaine, Hallucinogens ,Heroin, Inhalants, Ketamine, Marijuana (Cannabis), MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly), Mescaline (Peyote), Methamphetamine, Over-the-Counter Medicines such as Dextromethorphan (DXM) and Loperamide, Prescription Opioids, tobacco and Prescription Stimulants.







Most commonly abused substances in different countries




Most commonly

abused substances

Tobacco, alcohol and marijuana
United Kingdom
Alcohol ,cocaine and heroin
Cocaine, alcohol and opioid
Cannabis and cocaine







Risks and side effects


Sometimes analgesics are given to some chosen patients such as cancer patients who have severe chronic pain that does not respond to commonly used analgesics.


However, with the use of opioids comes the associated risk for patients and society that include misuse, abuse, diversion, addiction, and overdose deaths.


Not everyone who has been prescribed an opioid will misuse it. But people who have a history of other substance abuse, have brain-related diseases, untreated psychiatric disorders, are at a younger age, and live in a depressing environment are at greater risk of opioid misuse or addiction. (Edlund et al.,2007).



The diagnostic criteria for the condition


The first step in the diagnosis of drug addiction is the acknowledgment that the problem exists and the attitude of seeking help. This can be identified by friends, family, colleagues, or loved ones.


Once someone chooses to ask for help, the next steps include a thorough examination by healthcare personal.


Definitive diagnosis criterion for opioid abuse disorder uses a chart called DSM-5 Criteria for Diagnosis of Substance Use Disorder. (Meltzer et al., 2011).


You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider


If you have any specific questions about any medical matter, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider


If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention




There are three approaches in the treatment of opioid drug abuse disorder. These are detoxification, pharmacological (medications), and behavioural therapies.


When people are suffering from abuse disorder from opioids like heroin or other drugs and they try to discontinue, they experience withdrawal symptoms (pain, diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting), which may be severe.


Medications that detoxify the effect of the accumulated drug in the body can be helpful in this stage to reduce craving and other physical symptoms that can often incite a person to take the drugs again.

Every drug has a specific antidote, like there is lofexidine, a non-opioid medication that reduces opioid withdrawal symptoms for opiod.


There are patches, spray, gum, and lozenges used for nicotine poisoning.


Similarly other medications are defined by FDA for each and every drug that is addicting.


While detoxification is not actual addiction treatment, detoxification is a beneficial initial step when it is followed by pharmacotherapy and behavioural therapies.


Pharmacotherapy includes drugs that produce the same effect as drugs but are safer and less addicting.


Approaches such as contingency management and cognitive-behavioural therapy are known psychological approaches that have been shown to effectively treat substance use disorder, especially when applied in harmony with pharmacotherapy. (Connery et al.,2015).


The prognosis of the condition


Prognosis is good if the patient is mentally strong but usually, it is a relapsing disease and the patient starts abusing it again if he experiences some trauma or hardships in life.











Drug abuse not only affects the mind but also the body. It changes the general habits of a person including his appetite, and sleep. It can result in increased heart rate, slurred speech, changes in memory, a brief feeling of euphoria, and loss of coordination.


Every drug bind to specific receptors in the central nervous system and cause changes in vital processes of life i.e. breathing and circulation. By doing so, they affect the way of living. Like heroin affects the kidneys and can cause kidney damage or kidney failure.


  • Chronic drug abuse use can damage the liver cells because the liver is the main organ for detoxification. This damage results in inflammation, scarring, and even liver failure.


  • Drug abuse alters the mental abilities of a person resulting in poor work or academic performance, difficulty in keeping himself clean and tidy, noticeable appearance changes, such as extreme weight loss, increased impulsivity and risk-taking behaviours, and loss of interest in activities he once used to enjoy.


Drug abuser tries to hide the society due to guilt. They restrict their social life to themselves. They often experience job loss as they are mostly absent and are not able to achieve work goals.


Some people think that only withdrawal causes emotional disturbances, that is not true.


People experience difficulty in controlling their emotions at all stages of addiction. Rather, cravings and addiction intensify as the addiction continues.


  • People who are struggling with addiction may face anxiety, worthlessness, and anger.


  • This condition will affect the independence of a person by being abandoned by the family, sickness and death, extramarital relations, job loss, poverty, disablement due to accident, and family breakdown.


  • Yoga and music therapy is an adjunct in the rehabilitation of drug abusers. Previously reported substance abuse interventions based on yoga are believed to provide psychological and psychosocial benefits.



  • A study on mood state and quality of life of female heroin addicts showed that after yoga intervention a significant improvement in mood status and quality of life over time. (Devi et al.,2014)(Khanna et al.,2013)


You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider

If you have any specific questions about any medical matter, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention




Takeaway Message

Addiction is a lifelong disease. But people can recover from addiction and can live normally. Getting help is essential to recovery. Substance use disorder is a “relapsing disease. Because of the possibility of relapse, you need ongoing treatment.



It is not going to heal overnight and may even take some years, but with the right help that works for you, support from people that you trust, changes to the diet and lifestyle whenever necessary is vital to going to the right direction in recovering from any substance abuse disorder.



Thank you for reading and if you do have any questions or comments, please leave below and I’ll be sure to help you out!

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3 thoughts on “Substance Abuse

  1. Abel says:

    I really liked the picture of the letters drawn by a child where it said never ever ever… ever  give up. Yes, I know that addiction is a lifelong disease. But we can be helpful to our loved ones that struggle with this illness by showing understanding and support for them overcoming this terrible monster.

  2. Michael says:

    Some sobering statistics in your article. I did at one time work with a heroin addict who was on a methadone program. Occasionally he caught a ride home with me after work and I would drop him at the methadone clinic. If you did not know that, then you would not have thought him any different to anyone else at work. 

    What he did in private I have no idea, but work wise, he never had day’s off, and was good at his job. 

    While your stats are sobering, I think it is important that addicts not only know there is help available but how to access it. 


    • Wholeearthgoodness says:

      Hello Michael

      There is much available help out there and some recommendations in the article too. First steps are recognising this abuse and willing to recover from it, certainly reach out to people that you trust and a medical professional.

      Thank you,


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