Tag: alcohol and drug treatment

substance abuse

Understanding Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse, Withdrawals, and Effects

 The World Health Organization (WHO) defines substance abuse as the frequent and hazardous utilization of psychoactive substances such as alcohol, nicotine, and drugs. Repeated consumption of such leads to dependence that affects the user’s behavioral, cognitive, and physiological abilities. It occurs when the user goes through an uncontrollable urge to take the substance despite its lethal consequences, prioritizes its use over other activities and obligations, and experiences higher tolerance.

Development of high tolerance to substances requires the user to consume a larger volume of the substances to produce the regular result. Cessation or reduction in the amount of consumed substance triggers withdrawals. In the USA, five of the most commonly abused substance is tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

  1. Tobacco

Tobacco smokers develop addiction due to nicotine. Users claim that tobacco relieves stress, improves performance, limits hunger, and helps control weight.

Aside from nicotine, several other harmful substances are present in a stick of cigarette. These chemicals increase the risk of suffering from heart diseases, lung cancer and emphysema, stroke, and peptic ulcer disease.

Upon quitting, smokers experience anxiety, sleep disorder s, stress, and depression as withdrawal effects.

  1. Alcohol

As a depressant, alcohol slows down mental activity, resulting to slurred speech, imbalance, slow reaction, and judgment distortion.

Excessive alcohol intake on a regular basis can lead to heart enlargement and increase the risk of stomach cancer. Other detrimental effects include chronic pancreatitis, liver cirrhosis, and risk for pancreatic cancer. Aside from its negative effects to the health, alcohol abuse is associated with fatal motor vehicle accidents.

Withdrawal from alcohol can result to irregular heartbeat, anxiety, and seizures, among others.

  1. Marijuana

Marijuana can be consumed in several ways such eating or smoking. The plant produces the active chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is its addictive component.

Usage weakens short-term memory and retention, as well as the ability to concentrate and coordinate. It increases heart rate, harms the lungs, and intensifies the risk of psychosis. When smoked, it irritates the lungs and leads to high risk of cancer than tobacco smoking. Pleasure and relaxation are the usual common effects of marijuana use.

Withdrawal effects include anxiety, depression, mood swings, irritability, stomach pains, loss of appetite, nausea, and insomnia.

  1. Cocaine

Cocaine is a substance that is derived from South America’s coca plant. It can be consumed through injecting, smoking, snorting, or swallowing. It stimulates pleasure and increases alertness. However, the drug also has numerous negative effects such as paranoia, constriction of blood vessels that leads to heart diseases and stroke, irregular heartbeat, and even death. Moreover, usage of this drug has been associated with heart damage, brain diseases, lung malfunctions, and kidney failure.

When suffering from withdrawal, users experience agitation, restlessness, depression, fatigue, discomfort, increased appetite, and sleep disorders.

  1. Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is a potent stimulant that decreases appetite and stimulates pleasure. Similar with other drugs, it can be consumed through smoking, injecting, snorting, or eating. Like cocaine, it could lead to heart disorders and stroke. Often, methamphetamine users experience paranoia, teeth damage, hallucinations, and weight loss.

Withdrawal causes nausea, depression, dry mouth, abdominal cramps, insomnia, and appetite increase.


While most substance abuse addicts strive to stop abusing drugs individually, a majority do not succeed. This is where medical and professional help come in. Service First of Northern California offers various outpatient drug treatment programs. With the help of certified professionals, clients go through counseling and support meetings to promote faster recovery from substance abuse. If you or a loved one is battling with addiction and is seeking help please call Service First today for information on our Outpatient Alcohol & Drug Treatment program.


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