Substance Use Disorder

A health condition that involves compulsive substance use is called substance use disorder. It usually happens when a certain substance interacts with daily activities and can be caused by either prescription or nonprescription drugs. In addition, experts can use the term “drug abuse” to describe this disease. Some healthcare providers can use another term to describe this health condition such as addiction (dependence).

Approximately 70,000 people died in the U.S. from substance misuse in 2017. Moreover, about 88,000 people die every year in the United States due to overconsumption of alcoholic products, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Check below some health problems that this disorder can cause:

  • Drunk and impaired driving
  • Violence
  • Familial stress
  • Child abuse

Those who suffer from this condition usually share or reuse needles for intravenous drugs. As a result, they are at higher risk of developing infectious diseases (including hepatitis, HIV infection, and others).

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), substance use disorder is considered a brain disease in which a person uses substances despite serious adverse reactions. In addition, education is considered one of the most effective methods to prevent this health condition.

Risk Factors

While anyone can get this condition, some risk factors could elevate your risk of developing it. For example, genetics plays an important role in substance misuse. As per studies, the genetic factor can be responsible for a person’s susceptibility to this disease by 40%-60%. Check below for other risk factors:

  • Trauma
  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Family members who use or misuse recreational drugs
  • Access to these drugs
  • Mental disorders (including anxiety, eating disorders, personality disorders, depression, and others)

Why do Adolescents Tend to Have This Condition?

They are more prone to experiment with these drugs because their brain is not completely developed and cannot make decisions as adults. Check below some adolescent risk factors:

  • Parents or other family members use substances
  • Childhood mistreatment (including abuse)
  • Bullying
  • Gang affiliation
  • Health conditions (such as ADHD, depression, and others)
  • Peer pressure to use drugs

If someone has one or more risk factors may develop a dependence (addiction).


These products are used to reduce the activity of your central nervous system (CNS). As a result, you may feel drowsy and relaxed. In any case, the effect of these drugs depends on the amount a person takes. For instance, low depressant doses may cause a mild euphoric feeling while big doses can lead to cognitive impairment or loss of coordination.


Alcohol is a product that is absorbed by the stomach fast and it goes to the bloodstream through the small intestine. It affects the brain function, motor skills, and every organ in the body. That’s why it is not recommended to drink alcohol if you are a pregnant woman. Additionally, if you are using this product in moderation it can be part of a healthy diet. For example:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 8-9 ounces of malt liquor
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 5 ounces of liquor

Misuse of alcohol can elevate your risk of liver disease, stroke, cancer, and other diseases. Furthermore, if alcohol negatively affects your daily life (such as your ability to work), it is considered to be an alcohol use disorder. It is also the most common recreational drug used in the United States.


This is an opioid similar to the prescription drug (Morphine). It is made from the seed of the poppy plant or opium. Other names of heroin include smack, H, ska, and junk.

This substance usually is used by injecting it into a vein, smoked, or snorted. Others can administer this drug rectally. People who use this drug usually experience euphoric feelings, clouded thinking, drowsiness, and others. Never use this product because it can lead to overdose, miscarriages, heart disease, or even death.

In case you are using heroin you should know that regular use can lead to an increased tolerance, which means that over time people need an increased dose to experience the same effect.


This category usually elevates the central nervous system activity and can lead to temporary alertness, energy, or self-confidence. However, if you overuse these drugs, you can experience sleeping problems (insomnia), seizures, cardiovascular problems, and others.


It is considered a powerful substance and it is usually injected into a vein, smoked, or snorted. It gives an energetic and euphoric feeling. This substance is also called coke, C, crack, snow, flake, or blow. Misuse of cocaine usually provokes increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. In addition, myocardial infarction, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, or even death can occur in people who use this substance for long periods. Approximately 5.5 million people ages 12 and older used cocaine in the United States, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) in 2018.


This is a substance closely to amphetamine. This drug can be heated, smoked, injected, or snorted. Methamphetamine also is known as chalk, meth, ice, crystal, glad, speed, and crank. Long-term wakefulness and an increase in heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure usually cause this substance. For those who use this drug for long periods, it can cause mood problems, violent behavior, confusion, sleeping disturbances, severe dental problems, anxiety, and others.


This is a mix of different parts of the cannabis plant including flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves. This substance can be smoked or ingested through edible products. It usually produces euphoria, distorted perceptions, difficulty solving problems, and others. Other names for marijuana include ganja, pot, weed, grass, 420, and trees.

According to NSDUH, roughly 43.5 million people used marijuana in 2018. In addition, experts continue to research marijuana’s ability to treat some health conditions (including glaucoma and adverse reactions to chemotherapy).

Club Drugs

This is another category of substances that are used by people usually at dance parties, clubs, and bars. Check below some examples:

  • Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) – Also known as G, liquid ecstasy, and grievous bodily harm.
  • Ketamine – Other names of this substance include K, special K, vitamin K, and cat valium.
  • Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) – This drug is also known as ecstasy, XTC, X, Adam, clarity, and molly.
  • Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) – Known also as acid.
  • Flunitrazepam – This substance is also known as R2, roofie, rophie, roche, and forget-me pill.

These drugs usually cause euphoria, sedation, or detachment and have been used to commit sexual assaults or “date rape”. Long-term use of these substances can lead to mental health problems (such as delirium), physical problems (including seizures, dehydration, fast heart rate), or death. Additionally, the previous effects could increase if you are using Club drugs along with alcohol.

Other Substances

The following substances are also misused but they do not fall into previous groups.

Anabolic Steroids

They are also known as juice, stackers, pumpers, and gym candy. These drugs are usually taken via injection or orally and are man-made products. You can get these medications legally in the U.S. with a doctor’s prescription. In any case, some athletes overuse them to improve their performance and strength.

Those who use anabolic steroids for long periods and in high amounts can experience the following health problems. For example:

  • High cholesterol levels in the blood
  • Hypertension
  • Liver damage
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Infertility

Check below some symptoms that could appear in women:

  • Deepening of the voice
  • Baldness
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • Facial hair growth

Teens also can experience certain symptoms including:

  • Accelerated puberty
  • Impaired growth
  • Severe acne

Discuss with a healthcare professional if you experience any of the previous symptoms.


The use process of inhalants in some cases is known as huffing. However, they are known as poppers, snappers, and whip-its. Inhalants include paint, lighter fluid, hair spray, or glue. They contain chemical vapors that are breathed in by people to experience mild-altering effects. While short-term use causes effects similar to alcohol, misuse of inhalants may lead to certain problems. Examples include:

  • Brain damage
  • Spasms
  • Heart failure
  • Loss of hearing, consciousness, or sensation

Roughly 2 million people from 12 years old and older used inhalants, according to NSDUH in 2018.

Prescription Drugs

These medications are usually prescribed by doctors to treat certain health conditions and pain. It is considered a misuse of medicines when you take them more than your physician prescribed or use them for other reasons. Substance use disorder may happen even if the patient uses the medications exactly as prescribed by the doctor. Check below some examples of drugs:

  • Opioids (such as Fentanyl, Oxycodone, Acetaminophen, or Hydrocodone)
  • Anxiety or sleep medications (including Alprazolam, Diazepam, and others)
  • Stimulants (such as Methylphenidate, Amphetamine, Dextroamphetamine, and others)

These medications like others may give you some side effects. For example:

  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Reduced function of the brain
  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Depressed breathing

Substance Use Disorder Stages

Healthcare providers divided this condition into 4 stages. For example:

1 – Experimental use

2 – Regular use (in this stage people often use substances to get rid of negative feelings)

3 – Daily preoccupation or risky use (when people do not care about their lives unlike substance use)

4 – Dependence or addiction (in such cases, a person cannot face life without drugs)

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there support groups or resources that can help to treat substance use disorder?

Check below some of them:

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teenagers
  • The National Association for Children of Alcoholics
  • AI-Anon
  • Alateen
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

You can also discuss this with your healthcare provider for more details.

What is the most common substance use disorder?

In the United States, one of the most common substance use disorders is considered alcohol use disorder.

What are the consequences of substance misuse?

Those who overuse drugs can experience the following health problems. For example seizures, mental confusion, brain damage, stroke, lung disease, liver damage or failure, and others. However, ask your healthcare professional if you have any other questions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You were not leaving your cart just like that, right?

Enter your details below to save your shopping cart for later. And, who knows, maybe we will even send you a sweet discount code :)