Causes and Symptoms (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
There are many substances of abuse. They include drugs such as alcohol and nicotine, the two drugs whose misuse costs society the most in terms of the problems they cause, as well as drugs such as caffeine. They also include illegal and regulated drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, heroin, and hallucinogens. What most people do not realize, however, is that they also include medicinal drugs, such as one might get via a prescription from a doctor, and even substances such as inhalants, including glue and paint.
Problems related to substance use come in several forms. Commonly called substance abuse, the medical description for the group of problems caused by drugs is actually known as substance-related disorders. Substance-related disorders include substance use disorders and substance-induced disorders. Substance use disorders are long-standing problems formally known as abuse and dependence. Substance-induced disorders are slightly different in that they can be very short-lived. Examples of these disorders are intoxication, withdrawal, substance-induced anxiety, substance-induced sleep disorders, and substance-induced sexual disorders. When diagnoses are given for these problems, they are specific to the type of drug(s) the person is using. So a person using marijuana, alcohol, and amphetamines might have diagnoses of marijuana abuse, alcohol dependence, and an amphetamine-induced sleep disorder. The specific...
(The entire section is 492 words.)
Treatment and Therapy (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Treatments for substance-related disorders vary by the substance involved and the specific type of problem. For instance, if one is experiencing withdrawal from alcohol as compared to another drug such as heroin, different medications are given for treatment. This is the case because the different drugs affect different neurotransmitters in the brain. Also, depending on the severity of the problems or presence of other problems, more than one drug treatment may be used. So someone who has a sleep problem associated with withdrawal from alcohol might be given a sleep medication. If another person withdrawing from alcohol was also showing signs of depression, that individual might be given an additional psychotropic drug to address the depression. In fact, many clients have co-occurring problems, so integrating treatment of the varied problems is important.
It is also important to note that while some treatments focus on reducing symptoms such as withdrawal or sleep problems that are biological in nature, others focus on the more social and behavioral aspects of the problem. Treatments may also vary in their goal. Some treatments may focus on having an individual achieve abstinence from the problem drug(s), while other treatments may focus on reducing the amount or frequency of drug use, or even reducing other harm from the substance use. Approaches focusing on reducing frequency and amount of use are often focused on...
(The entire section is 422 words.)
Perspective and Prospects (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Problems related to substances of abuse have been affecting human behavior for all of human existence. Exposure to substances tried as foods or medicines that may have had psychotropic effects, such as fermented berries or mushrooms and plants, are probably some of the first experiences leading to both positive and negative consequences related to substance use. As such, it is a long-standing problem that is likely to stay with human society and require management as time goes on because such substances are available and serve specific needs in human society and/or are ubiquitous in the flora and fauna of the world.
While the formal diagnosis known as substance abuse is likely to change in terms of how it is recognized, the problems related to the condition as currently defined will remain a target of intervention and concern. For example, the parameters defining legal consequences may adjust with new laws as legislation evolves and even new substances of abuse are identified. Similarly, the type and scope of social and safety problems may increase as substances are used in new contexts and with new behaviors. Problems related to role functioning, legal issues, use in unsafe situations, and use resulting in consequences that disturb social relationships remain significant problems and will need continued attention by treatment providers and prevention specialists to address the problem of substance use whether it...
(The entire section is 348 words.)
For Further Information: (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Bellinir, Karen, ed. Tobacco Information for Teens: Health Tips About the Hazards of Using Cigarettes, Smokeless Tobacco, and Other Nicotine Products. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2007. This resource focuses on one of the most abused drugs in society, nicotine, and provides basic descriptions of key health problems related to its use in varied forms.
DiClemente, Carlo C. Addiction and Change: How Addictions Develop and How People Change. New York: Guilford Press, 2006. Provides an easy-to-understand description of problems with addictions, along with useful concepts for thinking about how these problems develop for many people, as well as practical strategies for thinking about how to change.
Julien, Robert M. A Primer of Drug Action. 11th ed. New York: Worth, 2007. This is a more technical work that presents a more academic description of what different drugs are, how drugs are processed by the body, their safety issues, and their other effects on the body and brain.
McNeece, C. Aaron, and Diana M. DiNitto. Chemical Dependency: A Systems Approach. 3d ed. New York: Pearson, 2005. This textbook provides an integrated way of thinking about substance use problems and their treatment, starting with definitions, epidemiology, etiology, and the biological aspects and other consequences of these problems, while also addressing more advanced topics related to treatment of different...
(The entire section is 258 words.)