Substance Use Disorder

Substance use disorder (SUD) was formally called ‘drug addiction’ and has symptoms related to disorders for ten different drug classes: Alcohol, Caffeine, Cannabis, Hallucinogens, Inhalants, Opioids, Sedatives, Hypnotics, Stimulants, and Tobacco. Abusing substances in these categories affects the way our brains naturally release the hormones that result in our happiness and pleasure. That group of hormones and their associated mechanisms and absorption make up what we call the reward center. 

Many people with SUD also have mental health disorders. Mental health disorders often are caused, in whole or in part, by a reward center malfunction. So in an attempt to self-medicate some may turn to different substances. In order to fully recover, both disorders would have to be addressed.

According to the DSM-5 (the diagnostic manual for mental health professionals), to be diagnosed with SUD you have to exhibit any of the following symptoms:

  1. Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than you originally anticipated.
  2. Wanting to cut down or stop usage of the substance but not being able to do so successfully.
  3. Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of the substance.
  4. Cravings and urges to use the substance.
  5. Not managing to do what you should at work, home or school because of substance use.
  6. Continuing use even it causes problems in your relationships with people.
  7. Giving up important social, job-related or recreational activities to use the substance instead.
  8. VIII. Using the substance repeatedly despite it putting you in danger.
  9. Continuing to use even when you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused by or made worse by the substance.
  10. Needing more of the substance to get the effect you want.
  11. Development of withdrawal symptoms which can be relieved by taking more of the substance.

“The DSM 5 recognizes that people are not all automatically or equally vulnerable to developing substance-related disorders and that some people have lower levels of self-control that predispose them to develop problems if they’re exposed to drugs.” If you have 2 or 3 of the symptoms then your case is considered mild. 4 or 5 is moderate and with 6 or more symptoms you have a severe case of SUD.

So you look at the criteria and think you may have substance use disorder, what should you do ?

First things first, if you’re feeling too overwhelmed or even suicidal you can immediately text ‘HELP’ to 741741 to speak with a crisis counselor.

Secondly, consider therapy. Here’s a list of black mental health professionals in Dayton and other areas. A mental health professional can help you get to the root of your problems, diagnose said problem and get you on a treatment plan that truly helps.

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