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As explained by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in the Drug Facts publications, substance abuse can cause physical changes in the brain that become chronic, requiring medical and psychological treatment in order to be managed.
Because substance abuse and addiction are medically recognized as real, chronic psychological disorders, it is important that they be treated in the way any other medical or psychological condition is treated – by experts trained in the physical, mental, and social issues and challenges that can arise for a person who is struggling with substance abuse. With these trustworthy resources, pitfalls that lead to relapse can be more easily avoided and a person can emerge from treatment with tools needed to remain in long-term recovery from substance abuse.
Most simply, the World Health Organization defines substance abuse as harmful or hazardous use or misuse of substances that act on the brain, such as prescription and illicit drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse is considered to be a type of mental health disorder.
When a person is abusing a substance, it can result in the following behaviors and symptoms, among others, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services describes mental health as a person’s emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. Being mentally healthy makes it easier for people to be productive, to manage stress, and to enjoy their lives and the company of others. Signs that someone is suffering from poor mental health can include:
Cause & Effect Guide
Co-Occurring Disorders Overview
As described in an article from Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, substance abuse is a chronic psychological disorder that can be managed through treatment. Research-based treatment can help a person in the effort to reduce or stop substance use through the following steps:Step 1: Often a organized drug intervention is needed to help convince an individual with a substance abuse problem to get help. Professional interventionist are able to assist in this step.Step 2: detox and withdrawal to remove the substance from the person’s body and to manage any uncomfortable or dangerous withdrawal symptoms.Step 3: residential or inpatient treatment to enable the person to focus on managing the substance use disorder 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Partial hospitalization programs provide less around the clock care but offer more flexibility for those that need it.Step 4: education to help the person understand substance abuse, what it does to the brain and body, and why management is important for future health.Step 5: behavioral therapy to help the person understand and recognize particular triggers for substance abuse and how to interrupt drug-seeking behaviors and cravings.Step 6: family therapy to help all family members understand how relationships may play into the substance use disorder and how to create structure that supports recovery.Step 7: post-residential outpatient treatment to provide continued support, motivation, and abstinence skills practice during the transition out of treatment back to daily living.Step 7: Aftercare, including 12-Step and other support groups, to help the person avoid relapse and continue recovery in the long-term
Many people have questions about whether inpatient or outpatient treatment is better for their particular issues. The following comparison of inpatient and outpatient treatment can help in understanding the most helpful path to follow:
Addiction treatment experts are individuals, including medical doctors and psychiatrists, who are specifically trained and certified in recognizing and diagnosing addiction, and in providing treatment therapies for substance use disorders. These personnel must undergo additional training to become certified to treat these disorders and the conditions that may accompany them.
Along with medical and psychological professionals, other specialized staff members in a treatment program may include: