7 Signs of a Substance Use Disorder

By Staff Reports

(DGIwire) – What is substance abuse disorder? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) uses this term to combine substance abuse and substance dependence into a single category. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), substance abuse disorders occur when the recurrent use of drugs and/or alcohol causes clinically and functionally significant impairment, such as health problems, disability and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school or home.

Here are seven signs that someone is suffering from a substance use disorder:

  • Loss of control: If someone is partying so hard with drugs or alcohol that becoming belligerent is common practice, there’s a problem, says the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD).
  • Lack of interest or decline in performance: Neglect of usual passions, hobbies or responsibilities may be triggered by substance use, suggests the Mayo Clinic.
  • Anger when confronted by loved ones: If someone confronts a substance user about their problem, they may respond with aggression, the NCADD reports.
  • Risk taking and continued use despite negative consequences: Those with a substance use disorder may have total disregard for any serious consequences it may have, suggests WebMD.
  • Secrecy: Those with substance abuse disorder may try to conceal the problem, especially from those they suspect will be the most disappointed, reports NCADD.
  • Tolerance: Eventually, a person with this disorder will need the substance in greater amounts of they are looking to achieve the same reaction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  • Withdrawal: When the effects of the substance wear off, the person may experience anxiety, shakiness, sweating, nausea, insomnia or depression, the NCADD notes.

“Being able to discern that a family member or loved one is dealing with a substance use disorder is a key step in getting them they help they need,” says Roger Crystal, MD, Chief Executive Officer of Opiant Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company. “It is also important to keep tabs on the latest developments in therapeutic options.”

Opiant is studying the use of opioid antagonists in various delivery forms, in particular using nasal sprays, for the treatment of substance abuse disorders, eating disorders and addictive disorders. The company has planned a series of clinical studies to begin in late 2016 and going forward. The company has already developed NARCAN® Nasal Spray, which is being marketed by its partner and licensee, Adapt Pharma.

The brain’s reward circuitry is thought to be what regulates the occurrence of these disorders. Increased levels of certain chemicals called neurotransmitters—such as opioids, endorphins and dopamine—activate the brain’s reward circuitry. However, it has been shown that opioid antagonists can block the effects of these chemicals and make these types of behaviors less tempting to those who would otherwise obsessively engage in them.

“The research community is continually refining its understanding of substance abuse disorders, which makes it more likely that more effective treatments will be the result,” adds Crystal.

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