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What are the signs and symptoms of substance abuse? How to prevent it?

The excessive use of illegal substances, prescription or over-the-counter medications for the purposes other than those for which they were prescribed and the use of alcohol is known as substance abuse. Substance addiction can result in social, physical, emotional, and job-related problems.

Addiction is not the same as substance abuse. Many people who struggle with substance abuse can quit or adjust their destructive behaviors. On the other hand, addiction is a disease. It means you cannot stop using a drug even when your condition keeps getting worse.

Commonly Abused Drugs:

  • Alcohol
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products

Signs and symptoms of a Substance Use Problem:

            You may believe that you can control how much you use a substance when you first start taking it. However, you may require more of the drug over time to achieve the same feeling or effect.

Common Signs of Substance Abuse are:

  1. Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  2. Changing your friends a lot
  3. Stop taking care of yourself
  4. Spend more time alone than usual
  5. Eat more or less than normal
  6. Sleep at odd hours
  7. Have problems at work or with family
  8. Switch quickly from feeling good and bad
  9.  Have a strong desire or craving to use the substance 

Risk factors of substance abuse:

            Drug abuse can be influenced by a variety of risk factors. The more risk factors a child is exposed to, the more likely the child will abuse drugs. Some risk factors may be more powerful than others at certain stages in development, such as peer pressure, lack of parental supervision, drug availability, and poverty, etc. The protective factors help to reduce substance abuse such as a strong parent-child bond. An important goal of prevention from substance abuse is to change the balance between risk and protective factors so that protective factors outnumber risk factors.

Effects on Mental health:

            Chronic substance abuse can cause short- and long-term alterations in the brain, leading to mental health concerns like depression, anxiety, anger, hallucination, and a variety of other issues.

Effects on Physical health:

            Substance abuse has several physical health consequences, including cardiovascular problems, insomnia, a lack of muscular coordination, coma, heart and lung failure, convulsions, and so forth.

Prevention of Substance Abuse

While it’s practically impossible to prevent anyone and everyone from using drugs, there are things we can all do to avoid drug and alcohol abuse. It’s possible that by sharing this information with those closest to you, you’ll be able to keep them away from using drugs.  

Here are a few ways to help prevent substance abuse:

  • Dealing with peer pressure effectively:

Peer pressure is one of the most common causes for teenagers to start using drugs. Nobody likes to be left out; therefore teenagers (and some adults) find themselves doing things they wouldn’t typically do just to fit in. In these situations, you’ll either need to find a new set of friends that won’t pressure you into doing bad things, or you’ll need to figure out a smart way to say no. To avoid falling into tempting situations, a person should create a reasonable explanation or plan ahead of time.

  • Deal with life pressure:

Today people are overworked and overwhelmed, and often feel like a good break or a reward is deserved. However, they end up abusing drugs or alcohol, which simply adds to their stress, and many of us fail to see this at that time. To avoid using drugs as a reward, a person must learn to cope with stress and relax in other positive ways.  They can take up exercising, read a good book, volunteer for the needy, and creating something new. To put it another way, do anything uplifting, and relaxing that helps to take your mind off drugs to relieve stress.

  • Seek help for mental illness:

Mental illnesses and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand. Those with a mental illness may turn to drugs to alleviate their suffering. Those suffering from some form of mental illness, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder should seek therapy from a skilled expert before turning to drugs or alcohol.

  • Examine the risk factors:

If you are aware of the biological, environmental, and physical risk factors you possess, you are more likely to overcome them. Risk factors include a family history of substance abuse, living in a social environment that praises drug abuse, or having a family life that displays drug abuse, etc.

  • Maintain a well-balanced life:

When something in life isn’t working out or unhappy with one’s life or confused about where one is headed, many turn to drugs. Always remember to look at the big picture of life and make sure to set your priorities in order.  

  • Connecting:

Get in contact with the people, NGO’s or organizations that are primarily dedicated to preventing people from using drugs and assisting them in overcoming their substance abuse issues. Every country has a non-governmental organization (NGO) that assists people in similar situations.

At Innovative Zone Rehabilitation, we offer the right treatment facilities in town. Our staff is highly competent and experienced in their field. If you require any type of support to have a better understanding of substance abuse and related issues, you are always welcome at Innovative Zone Rehabilitation.

Written by:  Sameera Iftikhar

To read article this in Urdu; download the pdf file attached below:

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