Types of Substance Abuse and Strategies to Overcome Addiction

Many of us use substances to relax, unwind, and enjoy ourselves. Though there are also those who use them for other reasons, including escaping the stresses of life, masking emotional pain, or eliminating chronic anxiety. But the comfort provided by drugs, alcohol, or other substances is often nothing more than a band-aid for deeper mental health disorders that need more hands-on treatment. 

After the effects of a substance wears off, the returning pain, anxiety, or stress can be overwhelming. The individual may attempt to self-medicate by continuing to use substances to numb their pain, creating a vicious cycle of negative behavior. The ease of access and variety of substances available makes it difficult for those who struggle with addictions.

Types of Substance Abuse

1. Alcohol

Drinking alcohol is legal for people over 21 years old, which means it’s easy to purchase and is readily available for consumption. Alcoholism is the most common type of substance abuse disorder. Drinking large quantities over time can cause numerous health conditions, including liver disease, heart problems, hypertension, and even brain damage. Intoxication can severely alter a person’s mental facilities, and the withdrawal process can be difficult to manage.

2. Opioids

These substances are of a drug class known as pain relievers or depressants and require a prescription from a doctor. Though, there are also other opioids that are sold illegally, like heroin. The following meds require a prescription but can also be sold illegally on the street: morphine, codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, or oxycodone. The physical dependency created by these drugs is severe and can cause respiratory depression or death when used improperly.

3. Tobacco

This leafy plant contains nicotine and is the cause of most preventable diseases in the United States. Even with all of the warnings and campaigns against smoking, thousands die every year from the abuse of this product. Smoking raises the risk of cancer significantly, and pregnant women who smoke have babies more susceptible to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

4. Cannabis

Legalizing marijuana and using it for medicinal or recreational activities does not remove its potential for harmful effects. Cannabis can lead to a major lack of motivation or changes in perception and cognition. Long-term effects can include addiction, altered brain development, and chronic bronchitis if inhaled.

5. Stimulants 

This group of substances includes amphetamines and cocaine and is used by individuals looking for increased energy, productivity, or alertness. It has a high rate of addiction and can cause mental conditions, including mood swings, hostility, and psychosis. If abused regularly, you may see seizures or heart failure.

6. Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens alter the perception of a person’s sense of reality. They are, for the most part, illegal, with LSD, PCP, DMT, and MDMA being the most commonly used. Using these extreme drugs can cause unpredictable behaviors, dissociative episodes, and deep depression during withdrawal periods.

How To Overcome Addictions

When struggling with addiction, it’s vital to find a program with both long-term and short-term strategies to help you overcome your dependency. Look for programs that offer researched treatment plans and a multidisciplinary team. There are many tactics and approaches you can take to find success in overcoming an addiction.

1. Supportive System of People

Remove any unhealthy relationships that are destructive to you and your sobriety. You may need to make a lifestyle change and surround yourself with people who you can count on to support you and who are sober. Good, healthy attachments will pay off in the long run.

2. Take Good Care of Your Body

If you are addicted to any type of substance, your body has likely taken a beating either internally or externally. This is the time to start healthy habits of eating well-balanced meals, getting sufficient sleep, and exercising. As you work out, your body will release endorphins to provide a new high and elevate your mood.

When you are feeling good and have established good habits, you are less likely to relapse. Taking good care of yourself physically will lend to your overall well-being.

3. Find New Hobbies 

Searching for new fun activities that you enjoy is a great way to keep your mind occupied and off of your addiction. When you find a new hobby or talent that is rewarding, it can bring joy and purpose to your life. It can also bring healthy connections with others that will provide positive relationships and replace destructive ones.

4. Learn to Meditate

Mindfulness exercises have been shown to relieve stress and anxiety. Meditating on a daily basis can lower your blood pressure while bringing you calm, peace, and a quiet mind. Learning to live in the present moment will help put the past behind you, where it belongs.

5. Seek Professional Help

Recovering from any addiction is difficult, and there is no shame in reaching out for help. Those trained in treating addictions can set you up for success with specific and individualized programs for you. 

There are so many options to numb ourselves from the stress and anxiety of life. Many substances are easy to obtain but only provide temporary relief to those suffering from the pressures and stress of life. There are ways of overcoming addictions by using self-help strategies and accepting the support of loved ones. 

When it seems too difficult to overcome substance addiction alone, then reach out to Orange County Behavioral Health by calling 949-900-8426 or 877-467-2223 today.  There is hope, and we can find an individualized treatment plan for you. 

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