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Running head: Understanding Substance Abuse 1

Understanding Substance Abuse

Venus George

Saint Leo University

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Understanding Substance Abuse

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations

National Survey on Drug use and Health, 235 million people 12 years of age and older needed

treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009, of these individuals, only 2.6

million-16.2 percent -only received treatment at specialty clinics. ("Key Substance Use and

Mental Health Indicators in the United States:" 2017)

Substance abuse has become a major problem today. Families are destroyed. The crime

rate has increased. Children are neglected. This pandemic has touched every aspect of today's

society, socially, physically, psychologically and spiritually time has come for the world to take

a closer look at substance abuse in order to find a solution to the problem. The research will

define substance abuse, explore causes of substance abuse, explain the effects of substance and

discuss the types of substances used. .

What is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse is a complex disorder characterized by compulsive drug or alcohol use

that leads to significant disruptions in daily living, including loss of work, relationships and

health. It is progressive in nature and requires a professional intervention for successful

treatment. (Casa 2012) Many people do not understand why or how other people become

addicted to drugs. Today, People think that it is easy to get off of drugs. Getting off drugs is one

thing, but staying off drugs is another thing.

Drug Addiction

"Drug addiction is a disease of the mind because the abuse of drugs leads to changes in the

structure and function of the brain. Substance abuse leads to drug addiction. There is a difference

in substance abuse and drug addiction. Substance abuse is a pattern or behavior when a person
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uses mind-altering substances to a harmful extent. Drug addiction is the habitual taking of

addictive or illegal drugs. People who have addictive personalities are more susceptible to

becoming an addict, may become addicts. This type of personality has a set of traits that make

addiction more likely."("Drug Abuse, Addiction, and the Brain")

The world health organization (WHO) defines a drug as any substance or product that

modifies the behaviors of a person for the benefit of the recipient. The person who uses drugs

does not know how the drugs interacts with his body. When people lose control, and begin to act

out in ways that are out of character, treatment may be necessary for recovery from addiction.

Understanding the history of drug addiction and its issues may help to put the current situation

about drug addiction into perspective.

Getting hooked on drugs can happen to anyone. The pleasurable experience from using is

far greater than the pain experienced from not using. They are willing to go to any lengths. Risky

health practices, legal complications, loss of family or jobs is some of the consequences for self-

medicating. Many people think that drug use is based on a lack of moral principles or willpower.

They believe that people can stop whenever they want to if they try hard enough. Drug addiction

is a disease, and quitting usually takes more than just good intentions or a strong will. Drugs

addiction is hard to quit, even for those who want to.

Causes of substance Abuse.

Michael Weaver, MD stated It has absolutely been proven repeatedly that there is a genetic

component to addiction. Genes play a major role in our body make up. Some of our

characteristics are passed down to us through the genes from our relatives. Observing twins

shows how genes function. Scientist have found that genes are responsible for about half the

likelihood of a person becoming an addict. Wesley Boyd, MD an assistant professor at Harvard

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Medical School said, You cannot exhibit addictive behaviors to a substance unless you are

exposed to the substance. ("Drug Abuse, Addiction, and the Brain")

The environment in which a person grows up can influence substance abuse. Children do

what they see. If they see their parents abusing drugs, more than likely they will do drugs. They

covet what they see their parents do. Curiosity is another cause for substance abuse. Some people

may see the effects of drugs on others and might want to see what it is like to use substances.

Curiosity will kill the cat. There are some people who have chronic pain. They may abuse

substances to stop the pain and eventually become dependent on the pain medication.

Substance abuse is not caused by mental illness, but one condition may indicate and

complicate the other. Other factors that may contribute to substance abuse is (1) parental abuse

and neglect (2) unstable home environment (3) poor family relationships (4) friends using drugs

(5) behavioral problems (6) poor academic achievement (7) drug availability. While Genetic,

environmental and psychiatric causes of drug abuse is possible, it is likely that a combination of

factors is the cause of drug abuse. ("Magnitude," n.d.)

Types of Substances.

Drugs are classified into categories. The research will explore the categories and their

drug interactions. There are two categories of drugs that effect the central nervous system,

downers and uppers. Downers consist of alcohol, barbiturates and benzodiazepines. Uppers

consist of Cocaine, amphetamine and methamphetamine, caffeine and nicotine, cannabinols and

hallucinogens, and inhalants and PCP. ("Magnitude," n.d.)

Prescription drugs such as opioids- codeine and morphine- are used to treat pain.

Stimulants (uppers) are substances that raises the levels of psychological or nervous activity in

the body. Depressants (downers) are psychoactive drugs which temporarily diminishes the
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normal function of the brain and central nervous center. Hallucinogens such as LSD and PCP are

known as psychedelics. These drugs change the way a person views the world. They alter a

persons thinking, sense of time and emotions. Inhalants are technically not drugs at all. They are

chemical substances that create effects on a person that can be addictive and highly dangerous,

causing brain damage and or death. The lungs of a person abusing inhalants is replacing oxygen

with useless gas. A person can suffocate, suffer an irregular heartbeat or cardiac arrest. If

inhalant use is not discontinued, rehab is recommended with a thorough detoxification followed

by counseling and life skills training to enable a person to see all things in a whole new light.

("Magnitude," n.d.)

Social Effects of Substance Abuse.

"The social life of a person who starts to use drugs is almost nonexistent. Instead of going out

with friends the addict makes excuses so that he can use drugs. Peers do not want to be around

the addict because of the behavior change. There is a decline in schoolwork and activities.

Paranoia causes the addict to become fearful because he may think that everybody thinks of him

as a bad person, then he isolates. He may withdraw to be alone with his own thoughts which

could make him more fearful and paranoid. So, he may use more drugs to escape his feelings. He

is in the cycle of self-destruction." ("Drug Abuse, Addiction, and the Brain")

Physical Effects of Substance Abuse.

"Some of the physical effects of substance abuse are deteriorating health condones such

as malnutrition, respiratory issues or hear disease. Drug addiction may cause digestion problems,

liver problems and other physical damage to the body. People who use drugs may have tremors

or shakes that may cause the to have mobility issue. They may get intoxicated and have a fatal
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accident. Participating in unsafe sex practices may cause them to contract deadly diseases. There

are many other obstacles in the substance abuse world to cause physical harm." ("Why Is

Addiction A Physical, Mental and Spiritual Condition?" n.d.)

Psychological Effects of Substance Abuse.

"Once a person becomes addicted to drugs, the brain changes. The physiological effects

on the brain stems from the reason addicts use drugs. People use drugs to cope with lifes

problems. The addict craves drugs every time he feels stress, then he uses drugs to numb his

feelings. When he stops using drugs, his body craves the drug, so he uses again. This creates a

cycle of self-destruction for the addict. One way to get out of the cycle of drug use is to stop

using drugs and find a better way to live."("Why Is Addiction A Physical, Mental and Spiritual

Condition?" n.d.)

Spirituality Effects of Substance Abuse.

"Spirituality is affected by using drugs. Our conscious contact with a higher power is

fractured. Most people who do not use dugs are basically law abiding and typically descent.

Once drug addiction engulfs a person, their whole quality of life changes. They begin to lie,

cheat and steal. They become very dishonest. Their lifestyle is all about them and what they can

get from anyone else to get their drugs. The addicts light no longer shines. They are in spiritual

darkness. "("Why Is Addiction A Physical, Mental and Spiritual Condition?" n.d.)

Substance Abuse Stigma

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, stigma is defined the experience of being deeply

discredited or marked because of ones undesired differences. To be stigmatized is to be held in

contempt, shamed or rendered socially invisible because of a socially disapproved status.

Substance abuse is the most discriminated physical or psychiatric condition. For people who use
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drugs or are recovering from problematic drug use, stigma can be a barrier to a wide range of

opportunities and rights. People who are stigmatized for their drug involvement can endure

social rejection, labeling and stereotyping. According to research, most healthcare professionals

hold negative stereotype views of people who use drugs. Stigma is a major factor preventing

individuals from seeking and completing addiction treatment and from utilizing harm reduction

services. ("Office of National Drug Control Policy," 2017) Knowing and understanding the

facts about substance abuse will help to ease the stigma of substance abuse.

Advocates for People Who Use Substances

The National Association of Social Workers talks about clients with substance use disorders. The

Systems Perspective in social work could be utilized for referrals to facilitate change. The use of

family and coaching could assist with changing the behavior of the addict. The Social Learning

Theory in social work could be utilized to reset automatic thoughts to help the addict have a new

outlook on life. Social workers regularly encourage with individuals and communities affected

by substance use disorders. Social work practice is in a unique position to influence the delivery

of services by addressing the acute and chronic needs of clients with substance abuse

disorders."("Make an Impact," n.d.)

"Social Workers mission is to enhance human wellbeing and help to meet basic needs of

all people."(SW) People who use substances have a lot of shame and guilt about their situation.

The lifestyle of substance abuse may have caused them to lose self-worth and dignity. The

social worker can instill a sense of hope to a person who is using. By meetings with addicts and

encouraging them to choose healthier lifestyles gives them Dignity and self-worth. These

meetings also show the addict the importance of relationships.

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Substance abuse is a serious issue in society. It is a complex disorder which stems from

many causes. Genetics, environment, curiosity and other factors are considered when exploring

the causes of substance abuse. The types of substances abused by people effects a person in

every aspect of their lives, socially, physically, psychologically and spiritually. Understanding

substance abuse could pave the way to educate people about substance abuse to make the world

drug free and a safer environment.

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Boyd (2017)

Casacolubia Closing the Gap between Science and Practice. Addiction medicine: -closing the

gap between science and practice .


Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: (2017, January 09). Retrieved from


-SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (n.d.). Key Substance Use and Mental Health

Indicators in the United States:Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Retrieved

from n.d.)

Weaver (2017)

Why Is Addiction A Physical, Mental and Spiritual Condition? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://substance abuse

Magnitude. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Make an Impact. (n.d.). Retrieved November 27, 2017, from

Substance abuse. (n.d.). Retrieved November 27,2017from

Magnitude. (n.d.). Retrieved from

world health organization.