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A substance use disorder is when a person keeps using a substance despite physical, emotional, or social problems.
Common items that are misused are:
The cause is not known. Things like genetics, the environment, and peer pressure may play a role.
Drugs stimulate unnecessary chemical release in the brain. Long-term drug use may change brain function.
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Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
Problems may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You will also be asked about your history of substance use. An exam will be done.
Blood and urine tests may be done to check for substances.
There is no cure. The goals are to:
It can take a long time to recover. Many people may need to be treated several times. It may include one or more of the following:
Medicines may be given to ease withdrawal symptoms and lower the risk of using again.
Therapy can help a person learn about the issues and lifestyle choices that lead to substance use. This can help a person learn coping and problem-solving skills. A person can also learn how to replace substance-using behaviors with healthier choices. A person's family should be involved in treatment to provide support.
There are many organizations and support groups that can help people become substance-free, such as Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous. Members meet often to talk about their misuse problems and their recovery.
To lower the risk of this problem:
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Drugs, brains, and behavior: The science of addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse website. Available at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drug-abuse-addiction. Accessed September 2, 2020.
Kampman K, Jarvis M. American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) National Practice Guideline for the Use of Medications in the Treatment of Addiction Involving Opioid Use. J Addict Med. 2015 Sep-Oct;9(5):358-367.
Opioid abuse and dependence. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/opioid-abuse-and-dependence. Accessed September 2, 2020.
Treatment approaches for drug addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse website. Available at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction. Accessed September 2, 2020.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD Last Updated: 9/2/2020