Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse, refers to the patterned intake of a drug in which the person consumes it in amounts or with methods that are harmful to his body or others. As a form of substance-related disorder, drug abuse has definition variants that are used in the context of criminal justice, medical, and public health.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), the use of psychoactive substance can result to dependence syndrome, which is a cluster of physiological, cognitive, and behavioral phenomena that rises from repeated substance use. A person who is affected by this condition exhibits a strong desire to consume the drug, struggles in controlling its usage, chronic use of the substance even it has harmful effects, viewing the drug as a priority over other activities and obligations, boosted tolerance, and physical withdrawal state.

Incidence

In 2012, the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse found out that the number of people aged 12 years old and above who use illicit drugs in the United States is an estimated 24 million, according to Web MD. As per the publication, the survey revealed that 6.8 percent of Americans is also alcohol dependent (a decrease from 7.7 percent in 2002) and 22 percent of the population smokes cigarettes (a decline from 26 percent in 2002).

Signs and Symptoms

According to Help Guide, the common signs and symptoms of drug abuse include neglecting one’s responsibilities at school, at work, or at home. These includes cutting classes, failing the exams, skipping work, and neglecting one’s household chores and children, since they prioritize taking the drugs over other things. The person also has the tendency in using the drugs under dangerous or risky conditions, such as driving, using filthy needles, or having unprotected coitus. The effects of the drug also leads to user to engage is misbehavior like stealing to maintain the habit of substance abuse, which results to arrests. Also, the person can also lose his significant others, some friends, and he may even get fired from work due to the changes in behavior.

Management

According to Web MD, many people believe that they can stop abusing drugs with just themselves; however, majority are not successful. As per the publication, this is due to the the cognitive alterations in a person, along with increased compulsions to use the drugs, even if the person has stopped using them. Management of substance abuse is dependent to the kind of substance being used and the person himself, with the prevention of relapse as the primary goal of treatment. Behavioral treatment also gives a person some coping strategies against cravings to take the drugs, as well as approaches to prevent relapse. Doctors may also prescribe medications like nicotine patches and methadone, a synthetic analgesic agent that has effects similar to morphine, but longer, in order to control withdrawal symptoms.

As per the World Health Organization, the policies for substance abuse are geared towards the control of the patterns and levels of substance abuse and associated side effects. Through the aforementioned approach, it is believed that public health problems associated with the disorder will be considerably reduced while health care system actions can be formed to further regain the health of the people affected.

Seeking medical care

According to Emedicine Health, one should call 911 or go to the emergency department if a person develops:

-difficulty in breathing;

-thoughts of harming himself or others;

-hallucinations;

-severe abdominal pain;

-chest pain;

-difficulty in speaking;

-recurrent seizures;

-severe headache;

-balance problems;

-fast heartbeat;

-confusion;

-severe pain at an injection site;

-numbness;

-lightheadedness;

-severe tremors;

-weakness;

-visual changes;

-dark, cola-colored urine

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