Substance Abuse: What It Looks Like, How to Treat It

Do you or someone you know need substance abuse help, or is looking for substance abuse rehab? If you do, you are not alone. The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that 22.7 million Americans, or 8.6% of the population, needed help for problems relating to alcohol or drugs in 2013.

Sadly, SAMHSA also reported that of the 22.7 million Americans who needed help, only 2.5 million sought help at a substance abuse rehab center. But just because people don’t seek such treatment doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. There are ways to spot drug and alcohol problems and find effective substance abuse help.

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What Are Some Signs of Short-Term Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse can change the way a person looks and acts. People who are intoxicated (drunk on alcohol or under the influence of drugs) might display different symptoms and behaviors, including:

  • bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils
  • slurred speech
  • poor coordination
  • hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia
  • mood swings or intense emotions

More dangerous short-term side effects from substance abuse include

  • rapid or slowed heart rates
  • slower breathing
  • greatly elevated body temperatures
  • seizures
  • unconsciousness or comas

These side effects can be fatal. Seek emergency medical help if someone you know is experiencing these types of symptoms.

What Are Some Signs of Long-Term Substance Abuse?

Even if substance abuse does not cause an immediate emergency, it can produce harmful consequences. Substance abuse can dominate the lives of people, changing behaviors and even priorities.

For those whose lives center around substance use, this could cause them to:

  • neglect jobs, educations, relationships, and even hobbies.
  • participate in dangerous or illegal activities, such as driving while drunk or high.
  • spend increasing amounts of money and time on finding and using substances.
  • crave drugs or alcohol and feel withdrawal symptoms when they are not using.
  • need more alcohol or drugs in order to feel effects.
  • experience difficulty when attempting to take fewer substances, or quit entirely.

Some of these behaviors can be fatal. Drivers who are drunk or high endanger the lives of themselves and others. People who need to use more and more drugs and alcohol in order to feel the effects of the substances tend to developer higher and higher tolerances.

Taking increased amounts of substances can have a cumulative effect. The more substances people take, the more damage caused to bodies and minds. Substance abuse rehab can help people end this damage and prevent new problems from occurring.

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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