What is Substance Use Disorder (SUD)?
What is substance use disorder, and why is it dangerous? Substance use disorder (SUD) is a complex and chronic medical condition that affects an individual’s brain and behavior, leading to the compulsive use of drugs or alcohol despite its negative consequences on their health and well-being. It is a diagnosable mental health disorder, and it can develop from the use of various substances, including alcohol, opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, and other illicit drugs.1
Is Addiction a Disease?
Addiction is a powerful disease that affects both the body and the mind. It is characterized by compulsive drug use despite physical, psychological, social and spiritual consequences. While it is possible to gain control over addiction with treatment, recovery takes time and effort. Addiction creates disruptions in brain chemistry that lead to physical changes in the body, making it difficult for someone suffering from addiction to control their behavior.
It is important that we approach substance use disorder from a place of understanding and compassion, recognizing that it is a disease, and that it’s treatable. With this knowledge as a foundation, we can reduce stigma surrounding addiction and increase the likelihood of those experiencing SUD seeking the support they need to begin healing.
What are the Risk Factors of SUD?
Do Risk Factors Mean Addiction is Inevitable?
Just because someone has risk factors that make them more susceptible to developing a substance use disorder, it doesn’t mean they will inevitably end up with one. People are more than just the sum of their risk factors, and individuals can take proactive steps to reduce their chances of developing a substance use disorder.
This could include avoiding or reducing exposure to substances, finding positive ways to cope with stress, building strong social support networks, and seeking treatment if they notice themselves beginning to develop symptoms of substance use disorder. Taking these steps can help reduce the chance of someone developing a substance use disorder, regardless of their risk factors.
Why is SUD Dangerous?
Substance use disorder (SUD) is dangerous for several reasons, including the following:
Negative Implications on Life and Well-Being
SUD can have negative consequences on an individual’s physical and mental health, social and occupational functioning, and overall quality of life.
Because SUD can significantly impact an individual’s social and occupational functioning, it can lead to job loss, financial problems, legal issues, and strained relationships. The compulsive use of drugs or alcohol can also result in neglect of personal responsibilities and obligations, leading to further negative consequences.3
One of the most immediate dangers of SUD is the risk of overdose, which can lead to respiratory depression, cardiac arrest, and even death. Overdose can occur when an individual consumes more of a substance than their body can handle, or when the potency of the substance is unexpectedly high. Overdose is especially common as people become dependent on a substance and build a higher tolerance.
Long-Term Health Risks
SUD can also have long-term effects on an individual’s health, such as an increased risk of chronic medical conditions, including liver disease, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. Substance use can also damage the brain, leading to cognitive impairment, memory problems, and mental health disorders like depression and anxiety.
Substance Use Disorder Detoxification
The detoxification stage of substance use disorder (SUD) is a critical step in the treatment process that involves the removal of harmful substances from the body. It is often the first stage of drug detox treatment, followed by a comprehensive program designed to manage withdrawal symptoms and provide the necessary support for long-term recovery.
Drug Detox Treatment Process
Drug detox treatment process can vary depending on the type of substance abused, the severity of addiction, and individual factors such as age, gender, and health status. In general, drug detox treatment aims to minimize discomfort and medical risks associated with withdrawal while ensuring that the individual is stable enough to move on to the next stage of treatment.
How It Works
The drug detox treatment process typically begins with a comprehensive medical evaluation to determine the individual’s physical and mental health status, any existing medical conditions, or any co-occurring mental health disorders that may need to be addressed during the detox process. Depending on the individual’s needs, medication-assisted treatment may be used to manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings.
Individuals may receive round-the-clock medical supervision during detoxification to ensure their safety and comfort. Depending on the severity of addiction and potential medical complications, individuals may be referred to an inpatient detox facility or a hospital setting for more intensive medical monitoring.
Symptoms Of Drug Detox Treatment
Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe. Mild withdrawal symptoms associated with substance use disorder (SUD) can vary depending on the type of substance used, the severity of addiction, and individual factors such as age, gender, and health status.
Mild Withdrawal Symptoms
However, some common mild withdrawal symptoms observable during drug detox treatment may include:
- Tremors or shaking
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Runny nose or
- Watery eyes
- Increased heart rate
- Mild fever
It is important to note that mild withdrawal symptoms can progress to more severe symptoms and complications if left untreated, or if an individual experiences a sudden cessation of substance use.
Severe Withdrawal Symptoms
Common severe SUD withdrawal symptoms include the following:
- Delirium tremens (DTs)
- Severe agitation or restlessness
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
- Psychotic symptoms
- High blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate or
- irregular heartbeat
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea
- Chest pain or tightness
- Respiratory depression
Factors Affecting Severity of SUD Withdrawal Symptoms
Understanding the withdrawal factors is essential for designing effective drug detox treatment plans that minimize discomfort and medical risks. Some factors that can affect the severity of SUD withdrawal symptoms include:
- Type of Substance: Drugs such as opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol can cause more severe withdrawal symptoms than other substances such as marijuana or nicotine.
- Duration and Frequency of Use: The longer and more frequently an individual uses a substance, the more severe their withdrawal symptoms may be.
- Dosage: Higher doses of a substance can cause more severe withdrawal symptoms than lower doses.
- Method of Use: Injecting or smoking a substance can lead to more severe withdrawal symptoms than taking it orally.
- Co-occurring Medical or Mental Health Conditions: Individuals with co-occurring medical or mental health conditions may experience more severe withdrawal symptoms due to the interaction between the conditions and substance use.
- Age, Gender, and Genetics: Age, gender, and genetics can affect the severity of withdrawal symptoms. For example, women may experience more severe withdrawal symptoms than men due to hormonal differences, and genetic factors can affect how an individual metabolizes and reacts to a substance.
- Environmental Factors: Stress, trauma, and social support can also affect the severity of withdrawal symptoms. A supportive and stress-free environment can help minimize the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
Is It Dangerous to Detox From Home?
Detoxing from drugs or alcohol at home can be dangerous, especially for individuals with severe substance use disorder (SUD) or those with co-occurring medical or mental health conditions. This is because withdrawal symptoms associated with SUD can be unpredictable, and severe symptoms can quickly escalate, leading to life-threatening complications.
Detoxing from drugs or alcohol without medical supervision or drug detox treatment can also be dangerous due to the risk of relapse. Individuals may experience intense cravings and other psychological symptoms that can make it challenging to maintain sobriety. Without professional support and medical care, individuals may be at a higher risk of relapse and overdose.
Which Substances are the Most Dangerous to Detox From?
Additionally, detoxing from certain substances such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids can be particularly life-threatening without medical supervision. These substances can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, including seizures, delirium tremens (DTs), and respiratory depression, which require immediate medical attention.
As such, detoxing from drugs or alcohol at home is not recommended.5
When Should You Consider Professional Drug Detox Treatment?
Detox and Co-Occurring Disorders
Individuals with co-occurring medical or mental health conditions should consider professional drug detox treatment. SUD can exacerbate existing medical or mental health conditions and can also increase the risk of developing new ones.
Individuals who have relapsed after previous attempts to quit using drugs or alcohol should also consider professional drug detox treatment. Relapse is common during recovery, and professional treatment can provide the necessary support and resources to achieve and maintain long-term sobriety.
Should You Pursue Aftercare?
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a mutual support group that provides a supportive community of individuals in recovery who share their experiences and provide encouragement to one another.
Rehab programs provide intensive therapy and support in a structured environment, helping individuals to develop coping skills and strategies to manage triggers and cravings. Other aftercare options include counseling, outpatient treatment, and support groups.
In addition to providing ongoing support, aftercare and extended treatment options can also help individuals address underlying issues that may contribute to their addiction, such as trauma, mental health conditions, or unhealthy relationships.
How can Rise Above Treatment Help With Drug Detox Treatment?
At Rise Above Treatment, we can help you with drug detox treatment by providing personalized and comprehensive care, including medical supervision, counseling, and support throughout the process.
Our team of experienced professionals guide you through the detox process, ensuring your safety and comfort while helping you achieve lasting recovery and lead a fulfilling life.
Table of Contents
Are you ready to Rise Above your mental health and addiction challenges?
Reach out to us today. Let us provide the support and guidance needed for sustainable recovery and wellness, allowing you to lead the happy, healthy, and fulfilling life you deserve.