The Difference Between Substance Use and Substance Abuse

substance use abuseSubstance use and abuse are two entirely different things. People often think they can be used interchangeably, but this is not the case. Substance use can be entirely harmless. It is a way of referring to the responsible use of a recreational or medicinal substance, such as drinking moderate amounts of alcohol. Substance abuse, on the other hand, refers to an irresponsible use of a recreational or medicinal substance, such as driving under the influence of marijuana. The differences between the two are not subjective. It is true that there is a gray area that makes it more difficult to distinguish between the two, but they are inherently different things.

Examples of substance use can range from taking a prescribed medication according to the doctor’s orders to having no more than one glass of wine per day. It essentially means that, whatever amount of a substance the experts have determined is good for a person is all that is being consumed by the person in question. According to everything we know about medical and mental health, proper quantities and dosages of the substance are being consumed.

Substance abuse, on the other hand, cannot claim this kind of responsibility. The terminology speaks for itself. An abuse of anything means it is not being handled correctly and the mistreatment is causing harm. The harm being caused by substance abuse may fall on the substance abuser or on the people in the substance abusers life, and often falls on both. The harm is due to excessive consumption of the substance to the point that it is doing physical and mental damage. A substance abuser defies scientific opinions about how much of the substance should be used and uses it recklessly, often damaging their health, relationships, reputation and finances.

Substance use is, obviously, the smarter option and substance abuse is, obviously, the worse option. Substances with powerful effects on the body and the mind are not meant to be used frivolously. They can have very serious long term consequences on those who abuse them. Anyone who uses these types of substances should always research expert opinions on how to use them and take the information seriously.

The Rehab Selection Process

rehab choices

A need has arisen to use the services of a rehabilitation program. Now what? Where do you start? Who do you contact? How do you find the right program? You may feel daunted by the task of selecting the right rehabilitation center for yourself or a loved one. Do not be afraid! There is plenty of information available to assist you in your decision making. When you are searching for the rehab center that best meets your needs, consider the following:

  • Price range. The cost of treatment is inevitably the deciding factor for some. Rehabilitation programs range in price quite a bit, all the way from government funded, low income rehabs to luxury, executive rehabs. Good quality rehabilitation can be found for every type of budget, but one must do their research. Poor quality substance abuse treatment can also be found to suit every budget.
  • Individual and group sessions. Every good treatment program will offer its clients some individual counseling as well as some group therapy. It is important to have a mix of both because they offer unique benefits to clients by learning from an expert and by learning from each other.
  • Licensed. A rehabilitation center should be licensed, credible and able to present a record of successful cases to its would be clients. When you are considering potential rehab centers, remember to ask for credentials!
  • Relevant to your needs. The rehab center you choose should be able to address your individual problems. Everyone comes from unique backgrounds and the reasons for your substance abuse are deeply rooted. A professional rehabilitation center will employ staff who have many areas of specialty and emphasis, including anger and stress management, boundary setting and co-occurring disorders.
  • Atmosphere, treatment style and recreation. The rehab you attend should appeal to you. Does the atmosphere you will be surrounded in make you feel safe and welcome? Does the treatment style and the approaches the staff takes make sense to you? Do you find the recreational activities they offer enjoyable? The answer should be yes to all of these questions.

Why People Abuse Substances

substance abuse

It is a well known fact that substance abuse is a universal trend. People of all nations, ethnicity and demographics have been found to overuse pleasurable substances. Whatever is considered a healthy amount of use by experts, people are known to multiply it to an unreasonable extent and overindulge in the substance even to the point of putting themselves and others in danger. In observing these behaviors, it seems that it would be obvious to everyone not to engage in them. Then why is substance abuse such a common problem? The reasons are varied.

Substance abuse can be a psychological problem. A person may over use substances such as drugs and alcohol to numb a mental disorder, such as anxiety or depression, or a past trauma, or stress and anger management issues. Indulging in substances allow people to escape temporarily from reality by altering their perception, making them a very popular and desirable way of coping. If this practice is sporadic and reserved for rare occasions, it is generally harmless. But if someone truly begins to depend on a substance in order to cope with life, chances are they are making a substance abuse problem out of a psychological problem.

Substance abuse can also be an environmental problem, meaning the substance abuser was heavily influenced by one person or multiple people who were also substance abusers. This is a very common cause of a substance abuse problem. People from everywhere emulate what they see their elders doing and very often grow up to do the same things. Substance abuse is frequently a learned behavior.

And lastly, substance abuse can be attributed to some people’s biologies. People are diagnosed with conditions of mysterious origins – chronic pain conditions, fibromyalgia, autoimmune disorders – with symptoms that are not always manageable. People will often try to manage the symptoms of their conditions on their own, by turning to illicit or recreational drugs and alcohol. Or, they will begin to abuse their prescription medications and take them in excess. Substances can provide people with enjoyment, relaxation and relief, but when they are used to excess and begin to cause new problems, they are a substance abuse issue.

Connecting Drug Users to Addiction Treatment Programs

drug addictionIn 2007, the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) conducted a survey in the United States to learn what percentage of the population required drug abuse treatment as compared to what percentage was actually receiving it. The results were shocking. It was learned that 23.2 million people living in the United States who were twelve or older required treatment for drug abuse from a substance abuse treatment center, but only 2.4 million were receiving it. This indicates that over 8.4 percent of the United States population is foregoing necessary medical and mental health care, and that substance abuse treatment programs are being underutilized.

While popular opinion of drug addiction as a social disease is changing to allow for more recent neurological and genetic studies on addiction, these statistics reveal that people are still not being connected to necessary drug addiction programs, for unknown reasons. Medical and mental health professionals consider drug addiction to be a multi-faceted illness that has many psychological and biochemical contributors. Studies reflect that drug addiction has a major affect on the brain’s neural network, as the information carried by neurotransmitters may tell the body it needs an excessive amount of a particular rewarding substance. This chemical rewiring of the brain can make sobriety an overwhelming task to the drug addict without professional intervention. Connecting drug addicts to appropriate treatment can mean the difference between functional and disfunctional living, health and illness, and in extreme cases, life and death.

Two broad categories of drug abuse treatment programs are available to addicts: residential inpatient programs and non-residential outpatient programs. Inpatient rehabilitation programs house the drug addict for a minimum of 28 days while they undergo detoxification and addiction counseling. Addiction inpatient programs are generally more intensive, as the recovering addict’s schedule and living arrangement are customized to their recovery plan. Outpatient programs do not house the drug addict, but instead arrange addiction counselling appointments, group therapy sessions, addiction resources and sobriety sponsorship for them. Understanding the availability of different types of drug addiction treatments is the first step in bridging the disconnect between drug addicts and the addiction treatment resources they need.

The next step is extending an invite for treatment to addicts everywhere by supplying information to shelters, such as the Vancouver homeless shelter, mission organizations such as the Kelowna mission and soup kitchen across North America.

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The Fundamentals of Alcohol Rehabilitation

alcohol rehabilitationIf you have chosen residential rehabilitation as the method of confronting your alcoholism, you have a big choice ahead of you. Choosing the right alcohol addiction treatment program is a sensitive process that requires a fair amount of research and education. Read further to understand what factors will be considered in making your selection.

With the variety to choose from, you should find an alcohol addiction treatment facility that you would feel comfortable in. Not only should the center be geared toward the things that make up your identity, but it should also provide treatment specifically for your type of addiction and personal issues.

The cost of the treatment is a necessary factor to consider. Services need to be within your budget, but you also need to ensure that the program is reputable and receives the funding it needs to provide the best quality rehabilitation possible. Many alcohol addiction facilities will accept insurance, provide loans or arrange payment plans.

Consider the degree of privacy you require as well. It is rehab policy to practice a doctor / patient type of confidentialtiy, so you need not be concerned about your anonymity, however some centers will require you to stay with a roommate. Be sure to choose a rehabilitation program that meets your personal space needs.

Before you can begin treatment, most centers will require that you detox. Consider your safety and whether you want to detox at home, in a medical facility or in the rehablitation center, because you will encounter all three choices. More often than not, the program will have you detox on site or in a medical facility to monitor your sobriety and to prevent any health risks.

Once your system is clean, it is time to begin your treatment. Be truthful about your addiction so that the rehabilitation staff can evaluate your needs properly and arrange the program appropriately for you. Typically, an alcohol recovery progam will involve group and individual therapy, provide healthy activities, and a stress free facility where you can focus on your recovery. Programs range in length from 30 to 90 days, depending on how severe the addiction is.

And finally, when treatment is complete, any good rehabilitation center will provide after care services, whether it be a sober living house to help you transition back into the real world, group therapy meetings such as alcoholics anonymous or a personal sponsor who is only a phone call away if you are feeling the temptation to relapse. Keep these pointers in mind when beginning the selection process for a good quality rehabilitation program. Your recovery awaits!

Things to Know Before Choosing an Addiction Treatment Facility

addiction treatmentOne only has to browse the internet for an addiction rehabilitation treatment center to know that the choices are vast. Before choosing one rehab program from a list of hundreds, one should be equipped with a basic knowledge of how to select a quality program that meets the needs of the potential client. No two people have the same recovery needs, and a successful program is one that helps an addict work through their substance abuse and emotional issues to give them the benefit of a well-rounded life of sobriety.

Firstly, be sure to ask the rehab representative about their license and accreditation. A professional substance abuse treatment program will employee staff that are certified in addiction counseling, and have experience in the mental health industry. Accreditation from whatever state or province the facility is in is vital to the addiction rehabilitation center’s credibility, and the professionalism of the people in charge can be a huge determinate in the success of the treatment program, especially considering that the facility should be an ongoing resource to the recovering addict even after they have left.

Be sure to ask about the ongoing relapse prevention services that are available once the program is finished. A quality addiction inpatient treatment center will provide a sobriety plan upon exiting the program, and will continue to provide counselling and support services to the former patient as they adjust to a sober lifestyle. Don’t forget to check the website of the facility for positive testimonials from past clients as well.

Do research into the location of the facility, and don’t hesitate to request an in person visit so the potential client can know for sure if they are comfortable in the rehab environment. Ask about the living accomodations to know what to expect of the rehab lifestyle, and to know what kind of compliance is expected from the client.