Symptoms and Causes of Substance Abuse
The symptoms of drug abuse affect every area of life—including physical health, mood, school, work, and relationships.
Here are some of the warning signs indicating that you need treatment for substance abuse immediately.
- Drug use is making it difficult for you to function and disrupting your life and your relationships, but you keep using the drugs anyway.
- Your tolerance increases, meaning you need more of a substance in order to feel the effects.
- Once the drug wears off, you experience symptoms such as headaches, nausea, exhaustion, and sadness.
- You’re often tired and sleep more than usual, or you have trouble sleeping.
- Due to changes in your eating habits, you’ve either lost or gained weight.
- Substance use has gotten you in legal trouble, or you’ve come close to being in legal trouble as a result of drug use.
- Much of your time is spent thinking about how to get the drug and when you can use it again.
- Even when you give yourself a limit for how much of the substance you will use, you end up using more than you planned to.
- Activities you once enjoyed or valued no longer seem important or interesting.
- Daily functioning feels difficult or impossible, including the tasks needed for school, a job, or self-care.
- While using the drug, you engage in risky behavior, such as driving or unsafe sex, and you mix alcohol with prescription drugs.
- In order to buy drugs, you borrow money or use money that you had planned to save or to use for something else.
- You try to hide how often you’re using the drug from the people around you.
- Friendships and relationships with family, friends, and co-workers are suffering, and you’re spending most of your time with friends who also do drugs.
- Bloodshot eyes, bad breath, bloody noses, and tremors are among the physical symptoms you’re experiencing.
- When you’re at someone’s house, you check their medicine cabinet for drugs to take, and you might also ask different doctors for prescriptions for the same drug. In addition, if you have been prescribed a drug for pain, you keep taking it even after the pain is gone.
Is there a connection between substance abuse and mental health?
Yes. In fact, underlying mental health issues are the primary cause of substance abuse. Substance abuse is a way of self-medicating and suppressing the painful symptoms of anxiety, trauma, depression, or another mental health disorder.
In addition, stressful or traumatic experiences during early childhood can result in substance abuse later in life. Moreover, prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol can also increase an individual’s substance abuse risk. Furthermore, young adults may begin using drugs such as steroids or stimulants in order to improve their academic or athletic performance. Hence, before they realize the risk, they develop a chemical dependency.
Most Frequently Abused Substances Among Young Adults
- Marijuana—as many as 30 percent of those who use this drug may have a marijuana use disorder
- Spice (synthetic marijuana)
- Prescription medications, including opioids, stimulants, and sedatives
- Anabolic steroids
- Hallucinogens, such as ketamine and DMT
- Inhalants (spray paint, glue, etc.)
- MDMA, also known as Ecstasy, E, or Molly
- Bath salts
Diagnosis and Treatment for Substance Abuse
Diagnosis of a substance abuse disorder involves a complete physical and mental health assessment, and may include any or all of the following:
- A physical exam to determine how drug abuse is impacting your health
- Lab tests to find out whether substances have affected the body’s systems
- In-depth interview with a physician, psychiatrist, or other healthcare provider regarding the frequency of your drug use and your behaviors regarding drug use
- Discussion of the appropriate care required—whether outpatient, partial hospitalization, or residential care at a substance abuse treatment facility.
What will I experience during treatment for substance abuse?
The first step in treating drug addictions is detoxing from substances. This is a medically supervised process of ridding the body of drugs. Because drug abuse creates a chemical dependency, this process can be difficult and dangerous when attempted without professional support.
Once detoxing is complete, the real work of substance abuse and mental health treatment begins. Guided by mental health professionals—including clinical therapists, recovery counselors, and experiential therapists—young adults uncover the root causes of their drug abuse. In addition, they learn coping and emotion-regulation skills. Hence, they develop healthy ways to work with the challenging emotions and stressors that come with emerging adulthood.
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Care at Newport Institute
At Newport Institute, we address drug addiction treatment and substance abuse prevention through the lens of mental health. Rather than looking at symptoms alone, we guide young adults to dig deeper so they can create the foundation for a thriving, substance-free life. In order to achieve sustainable recovery, young people need to understand and address the internal and external conditions that set the stage for drug abuse.
Treatment for substance abuse needs to take into account every aspect of an individual—their physical, emotional, relational, psychological, and spiritual health. Young people can make the most meaningful and long-lasting changes when they look at a full picture and figure out which aspects are helping them thrive and supporting the meaningful life they want to be living, and which are not.
Jennifer Dragonette, PsyD
Newport Institute Executive Director, Northern California
During your stay at Newport Institute, you will experience powerful healing modalities guided by our team of caring, compassionate experts:
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to shift thinking patterns and build new habits and coping skills
- Group sessions to create a supportive community and overcome the sense of isolation that comes with drug addictions
- Yoga and meditation to increase present-moment awareness and calm the nervous system
- Experiential therapies, such as Adventure Therapy and creative arts, to support you in processing emotions and developing greater self-mastery and self-esteem
- Life skills training to provide you with tools for entering the next phase of life with confidence and optimism.
Marks of Quality Care
Our innovative approach to mental healthcare earns accolades from press around the world, but it is our dedication to our client success that has helped us achieve accreditation from The Joint Commission, exceed licensing standards of care, and nurture affiliations with the following: