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When someone becomes dependent on drugs or alcohol to get through the day, this is a substance abuse problem.
It's a complex issue that requires very careful treatment. If someone has an issue with substance abuse, it's likely that friends and family will notice before they do.
There are various ways in which a person could display signs of substance misuse.
Physical and behavioural changes are key indicators, however, each substance has its own unique effects. There are still some common signs which are apparent with most substance misuse.
Common signs to watch for include:
The misuse of alcohol and other substances should not be ignored. If left untreated, the person could develop drug dependence or alcoholism.
People with substance abuse issues tend not to recognise this in themselves. It's often down to a loved one to persuade them to get help.
If your drug or alcohol use is affecting your life and relationships, see one of our GPs today.Make an appointmentAvailable
Treatment is often long-term, as addiction is classed as a chronic illness, especially for those who are addicted to drugs/medications.
It generally changes over time and is tailored to the individual. Treatment includes all aspects that are related to the problem such as medical, mental and social problems.
There are many ways in which substance abuse/addiction can be treated, however, some of the most common tactics include:
Detox: Allowing the body rid the system of the substance. This is generally carried out under supervised care to ensure the patient is safe. A gradual reduction in the drug may be required to slowly allow the body to adjust.
Treating withdrawal: Often withdrawal symptoms occur such as fatigue, depression and sleep problems. Doctors may prescribe medications to help minimise the effects and allow the brain to adjust to the absence of the abused substance.
Behavioural therapy: This type of therapy can make treatment and medications more effective and help people learn how to change the way they think and cope with cravings that may push them towards a relapse.
Substance abuse often begins as a way of dealing with different situations. Initially, users may start as a way of relaxing and may even feel better in the short-term.
However, over time their habit will have a negative effect on areas of their life such as relationships, work, social lives, study and finances.
If the substance they're abusing is illegal, they may even end up in trouble with the police.
A user may begin to feel depressed, anxious, angry and frustrated as they turn to substances to help them manage these feelings. The cycle may continue each time a person is faced with the same situation or feeling.