Know More About Substance Use Disorder

Understanding Substance Use Disorder

What Is Substance Use Disorder?

Substance Use Disorder describes an illness that is characterised by compulsive substance use that continues despite the onset of negative consequences. Key factors of this disorder include disturbances in the mental, behavioural, social, and physical domains of people’s lives. Commonly referred to as ‘addiction’, this illness has consistently been linked to poor quality of life, serious legal and financial difficulties, and even death. 

The Impact On Individuals And Families

The specific impacts, on both individuals and families, depends on which substance the person is taking, how long they have been taking it for, how it is administered, and far more variables than can be listed here. Alcohol alone is estimated to be responsible for up to 8% of all global deaths. 

However, there are a few impacts that are common across addictions. There are almost always associated health consequences for the individual, as well as deteriorated mental health and wellbeing. They often will suffer from legal or financial consequences as a result of their use, not to mention the cost of lost opportunity when they fail to fulfil their professional or academic obligations. 

Families are invariably affected by the addictions of their loved ones. Families often experience disruption in daily routines, roles, and responsibilities due to a member's addiction, leading to family dysfunction. The harm and emotional suffering of watching someone you care about deteriorate due to their own behaviour can also take a serious toll on the mental health of family members. 

Signs And Symptoms Of Substance Use Disorder

Recognising Early Warning Signs

It can be difficult to first identify when someone is struggling with substance use disorder, as they may begin to be secretive and even dishonest about their use. However, keeping an eye out for key signs may help facilitate early intervention. 

This may include, but is not limited to: 

  • Changes to weight or appearance
  • Hiding or lying about drinking
  • Defensiveness about their drinking
  • Neglecting their health and wellbeing
  • Changes in social behaviours or circles
  • Changes in mood or personality
  • Decline in work or academic performance
  • Neglecting responsibilities

Behavioural And Physical Indicators

Substance use disorder is most often diagnosed by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist according to DSM V or ICD 10 diagnostic criteria. While it is important to remember that only a qualified mental health professional can make diagnoses, being familiar with the criteria can inform what indicators you look out for once you suspect an addiction. 

If you believe you, or someone you care about, may have a substance use disorder, it can be helpful to ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Do you ever use drugs or drink alcohol in larger amounts or over longer periods of time than you intend to?
  • Have you ever made an attempt to cut down or stop using drugs or alcohol altogether, but were unable to? 
  • Do you spend a great deal of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of drugs or alcohol?
  • Do you ever experience cravings or strong desires to use?
  • Do you continue to use drugs or alcohol, despite it causing you to fail in fulfilling your responsibilities at home, school, or at work? 
  • Do you continue to use drugs despite it causing social problems, or problems within your relationships that are either caused by, or exacerbated by your use?
  • Have you used drugs or alcohol in situations that were physically dangerous, multiple times?
  • Have you continued to use drugs or alcohol despite experiencing, and being aware of, recurring physical or psychological problems that have been caused by, or exacerbated by, said drug or alcohol use?
  • Do you need to use higher quantities of drugs or alcohol than you used to to get the same effects?
  • Do you ever experience withdrawal symptoms when not using, that are then alleviated when you start using again?

If you have identified with, or suspect someone you know may identify with, 2 or more of these indicators, then it is strongly advised that you seek professional help and support to address your relationship with substances. Early intervention, as explored further below, is a key indicator for positive long-term outcomes. 

Risk Factors And Causes

Addiction is a complex illness, and there are many factors that may contribute to a dependency developing or not. Understanding these risk factors and causes is crucial for prevention and effective intervention. 

There is a clearly demonstrated genetic link to consider in relation to developing a substance use disorder. Individuals with a family history of substance use disorders are at a higher risk. Genetic factors contribute to vulnerabilities in the brain's reward system, influencing a person's susceptibility to addiction.

Expanding further on brain function, imbalances in the neurotransmitters involved in reward pathways and pleasure centres can affect how the brain responds to drugs and alcohol. This can make people more susceptible to their influences. 

Early exposure to drugs or alcohol during childhood can increase the risk of developing an addiction. Adverse life events, trauma, or chronic stress can contribute to substance abuse as individuals may turn to substances as a way to cope with emotional pain or distress.

In addition to these social factors, social circles and peer pressure can significantly impact substance use. Individuals may be more likely to engage in substance use if it is normalised or encouraged within their social groups.

Seeking Help For Substance Use Disorder

Importance Of Early Intervention

Early intervention is crucial in effectively addressing substance use disorder prior to its development into a life consuming illness. The sooner individuals receive support and treatment, the sooner we can work towards prevention of use escalation. Someone is never ‘too bad’ or ‘not bad enough’ to seek professional guidance and support. 

This can help to also prevent the development of physical and mental health complications that are associated with prolonged substance abuse. In addition to health complications, timely intervention allows individuals to maintain better functionality in other aspects of life, including work, education, and daily responsibilities. 

Individuals who seek help early may also find it easier to engage in and complete treatment. Early intervention increases the likelihood of successful recovery, as it addresses the problem at a stage when motivation for change may be higher.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient services are an excellent option to jumpstart your recovery. Offering 24/7 medicalised care, you or your loved ones can feel secure they are receiving the best care. 

Medically supervised detox and withdrawal programmes enable you to be in as much comfort and safety as possible. With daily support from a team of psychiatrists and psychologists, you can also expect to receive care for your emotional and psychological wellbeing

Inpatient treatment includes a range of therapeutic modalities, such as individual counselling, group therapy, and family therapy. In addition to this you will also receive education on addiction, relapse prevention, and coping strategies. Skill-building activities help individuals develop tools for managing life without substances.

The delivery of these therapies will be administered in accordance with an individualised treatment plan. These are typically created in collaboration with your lead therapist in order to ensure that your needs, goals, and objectives are being met during your stay. This enables you to make the most out of your stay. 

Part of this treatment plan should involve complementary therapies as well, such as equine assisted therapy, art and dance therapy, music therapy, and more. Cares administered by a medicalised spa team, such as ayurvedic treatments, massage, and meditations, will also support a somatic healing experience. 

Life After Rehabilitation

An inpatient centre will also set you up with a well-developed and personalised aftercare plan, which may include ongoing therapy, support groups, and strategies for managing triggers and stressors. This is essential for sustained recovery as you will have professionals you can lean on who will walk alongside you in your recovery. 

These should always be used in conjunction with relapse prevention plans, which work by identifying triggers, coping strategies, and strategies to protect your sobriety.  Life after rehab involves implementing these strategies and staying vigilant against potential triggers.

Clinic Les Alpes Approach To Substance Use Disorder

Our Philosophy And Values

Clinic Les Alpes shines as a beacon of medical excellence in the field of addiction treatment. When providing care for those suffering from addictions, we strive to provide the best in evidence based interventions. Not only are our staff all individually licensed to practice, but our clinic is also licensed as a medical facility through the Swiss Health Board. 

More than providing clinically exceptional treatment, the passion our staff bring to work means all care is delivered in a manner that is empowering, compassionate and respectful. We actively work to combat the stigma that surrounds addiction and dependency, and ensure that you, or your loved one, can feel this clinic is a safe space to heal. 

Finally, we believe in the power of personalised and multidisciplinary treatment. Addiction is a truly unique experience for every individual, and your recovery plan should reflect your unique needs and goals. By working with a wide variety of experts, all located in-house, Clinic Les Alpes are able to ensure you can start your road to recovery in good mental, physical, social, and spiritual health. 

Reach Out For Confidential Assistance

Clinic Les Alpes are available to answer your questions about substance use disorder treatment and our services. All calls and inquiries are handled with the utmost discretion and compassion. 

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