Shock and horror! What a broad statement.
Not really… Think about it. Some conditions are far greater in consequence and action than others but at the end of the day they all do one of the following; involve the brain’s reward system, relieve anxiety, stimulate compulsive use, bring with them an opportunity for negative consequences.
Here’s a handy list of some of the substances people use or behaviours they engage in past the limit.
Do you see one of these in someone you know who shows some of the signs of trouble?
In terms of medically recognized substance use disorders here’s the list:
• Alcohol Use Disorder:
Alcohol is a depressant. Alcohol use disorder is more common among adult men than among women, but the gap is not as big as it used to be. It typically develops at a young age. Severe use is commonly referred to as alcoholism.
• Tobacco Use Disorder:
Nicotine in tobacco acts as a stimulant for the central nervous system. Studies show that 68 percent of adult smokers want to quit and 50 percent of smokers have tried to kick the habit.
• Stimulant Use Disorder:
This group include amphetamines, Ritalin and cocaine. These drugs are commonly prescribed for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
• Opioid Use Disorder:
Opioid drugs include heroin and prescription pain-relievers such as oxycodone, codeine, morphine, and fentanyl. Did you know that according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, opioid-related overdoses are now the leading cause of death in Americans under 50 years of age and prescribed opioids are the “overwhelming initial source” of addiction?
• Inhalant Use Disorder:
Sniffing glue. Inhalant substances are volatile hydrocarbons, toxic gases that are released from glues, fuels and paints that can have psychoactive effects. Occurs primarily among ages 12 to 17. Often seen being used by homeless “street children” in South Africa.
• Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic Use Disorder:
Addiction to sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medications such as Valium. These are brain depressants. Rates are highest among 18- to 29-year-olds.
Heavy intake of caffeine resulting in symptoms including restlessness, nervousness, insomnia, gastrointestinal disturbance, rambling thoughts and speech, cardiac rhythm disturbances.
Cannabis Use Disorder:
Highest among 18- to 29-year-olds. Often the first drug used and often used with other drugs. Prevalence decreases with age.
Hallucinogen Use Disorder:
These substances alter perception. Phencyclidine — “angel dust” or PCP — produces feelings of separation of mind from body.
Here are the Behavioural disorders you should know about:
- Binge-eating disorder: Uncontrolled eating, often accompanied by purging (bulimia).
- Gaming disorder:It has been recognized officially by the World Health Organization. Other behaviours under study include smartphone use, Internet gambling, pornography, eating and shopping.
- Gambling disorder:Because of the quick feedback, it can provide reward symptoms to the brain much like alcohol or cocaine.
This is a very wide category and can be as diverse as hoarding and shopping to sex, eating, gambling, exercise and even talking compulsively. While the behaviours may not provide the pleasure reward of an addiction, they serve to relieve anxiety and stress and can have serious negative consequences in a person’s life if left unchecked.
There is more to know about Addiction in us all
In basic terms, an addiction is the repetitive use of a substance or engagement in behaviour because of the rewards message the substance or behaviour sends to the brain, despite numerous negative consequences the activity produces in the person’s life. No matter how bad it is, you just want more, no, you feel like you NEED more.
As someone caught up in the addiction, over time you will get used to the substance/ behaviour and up the usage or frequency of the behaviour, this is called tolerance. You may not even be aware of the damage being done by the behaviour, or may know about it and still continue in spite of it. At some point, the substance or behaviour may dominate your daily life. It is highly likely that these conditions are accompanied by other mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression.
Oddly enough, science has not been unable to come up with the single cause of addiction, nor can it predict who will become addicted. There are however risk factors that can be recognized, some of which may be avoidable and some unfortunately not. Genetics, family history and environmental factors play a significant role in determining vulnerability including growing up in a dysfunctional family and exposure to substances or abuse at a young age. Other mental health issues which are present may also contribute to addictive behaviour being realised through an addiction or behaviour. Even physiology may play a role since men seem to be more susceptible to addiction than women.
There are certain conditions that can predict the presence of an addiction.
If one or more of the following conditions seem fairly accurate to your situation or someone you care for, you or they may be an addict. Note “substance” can either mean drug or the behaviour;
- Feeling that you have to use the substance regularly — daily or even several times a day.
- Making certain that you maintain a supply of the substance
- Continuing to use the substance even though you know it’s causing problems in your life or causing you physical or psychological harm.
- Spending money on the substance, even though you can’t afford it.
- Having intense urges for the substance that block out any other thoughts.
- Not meeting obligations and school, family or work responsibilities, or cutting back on social or recreational activities because of substance use.
- Over time, needing more of the substance to get the same effect.
- Taking larger amounts of the substance over a longer period of time than you intended.
- Doing things to get the substance that you normally wouldn’t do, such as stealing.
- Driving or engaging in other risky activities when you’re under the influence of the substance.
- Spending a good deal of time getting the substance, using the substance or recovering from the effects of the substance.
- Failing in your attempts to stop using the substance.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop taking the substance.
As a general rule – if you said yes to 2 or 3 of the above conditions, it may indicate a mild disorder. If you are sitting at 4 or 5, it could be a moderate disorder and if you have any more than 5, you most likely have a severe disorder. There is good news! There are a variety of treatments available for all these conditions. If a problem is suspected, don’t try to deal with it alone. At the end of the day will all the information and food for thought you have just read, it is safe to say that there is definitely a bit of addiction in us all.
For more information on dealing with any addiction and getting yourself help to start a new life, call Houghton House now:
office hours: 011 787 9142
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