If you suspect you or a loved one may suffer from substance abuse, you may feel overwhelmed and helpless. How do you know that substance abuse has become a problem? Who do you call to help? Is substance abuse recovery possible?

Rest assured that you are not alone! Substance abuse affects people of all ages and backgrounds. Here we will provide valuable information about what you need to know about substance abuse and how to take the first steps toward substance abuse recovery.

What is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse, commonly referred to as SUDS (substance use disorder), is a chronic disease affecting millions of Americans each year. It occurs when using substances causes impairment in several areas of a person’s life. 

Some of the most common illegal substances abused are cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, inhalants, marijuana, and methamphetamines. Legal substances abused are generally alcohol or prescription medications.

There are many factors may increase the risk of someone suffering from substance abuse. For example, genetics and developmental and environmental issues can play a part, but it’s important to remember that the disorder can affect people from all walks of life.

The good news is that substance abuse is treatable through a process known as recovery.

Signs of Substance Abuse

Often people start using substances recreationally, maybe socially or to reduce stress. However, it is not always clear when substance use becomes a problem.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), which was developed by the American Psychiatric Association, two or more of the following symptoms occur over 12 months and cause significant impairment or stress:

    • Often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
    • A persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control the use of the substance.
    • A great deal of time being spent in activities necessary to obtain, use, or recover from the substance’s effects.
    • Craving or a strong desire or urge to use the substance.
    • Recurrent use which results in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home
    • Continued use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by its effects
    • Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of use.
    • Ongoing use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
    • Continued use despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance.
    • Tolerance or needing to use more of the substance to get the same effect.
    • Withdrawal symptoms when the substance hasn’t been taken.

Some of the more subtle signs that someone may be suffering from a substance abuse problem include:

  • Problems or lack of interest in school and poor grades.
  • Work issues such as being chronically late to work, poor performance reviews, and loss of motivation to do a good job.
  • Poor hygiene, including wearing dirty clothes and not taking care of their physical appearance.
  • Changes in behavior, such as being unusually secretive or wanting to be alone more.
  • Loss or changes in friendships.
  • Low energy and no motivation.
  • Money issues and not being able to pay bills on time.
  • Decreased appetite and sudden weight loss.
  • Looking generally worn out with poor skin and bloodshot eyes.
  • Becoming overly defensive when asked about substance use.

Treatment and Support Options for Substance Abuse Recovery

The first step to substance abuse recovery is admitting there is a problem. If you suspect you may have a substance abuse issue, there are many treatment and support options available. Asking for help requires courage and strength. You may be afraid that no one understands what you are going through or feel shame about being judged. 

Fortunately, this is not the case with qualified treatment providers. When you start the process of substance abuse recovery, you will likely realize that many can relate and that help is available. A substance abuse phone screening will help ease your mind and provide treatment options depending on your symptoms. For more information, call Transformations at Mending Fences at (888) 980-3053.

If a loved one is suffering from substance abuse, it is important to remember that you can not force anyone to enter treatment. Often people have to hit “rock bottom” which may include suffering a legal consequence of substance abuse. 

The best thing you can do in this situation is to educate yourself about substance abuse recovery options so you can be a resource when the person with the substance abuse issue decides they are ready for treatment. It is also important to remember to get support for yourself either through an individual counselor or a support group such as Al-Anon.

Benefits of Substance Abuse Recovery

Recovery is a long and complex process that doesn’t happen overnight. Just stopping the use of a substance is not considered sustainable recovery. This process of change is ongoing, and the benefits include improving health and wellness, relationships, and adopting positive values to reach your full life potential in a new lifestyle. 

There are numerous different treatment options and methods for substance abuse recovery. No single therapy is right for everyone, so it is important to get a substance abuse evaluation from a licensed mental health professional for your individual needs. 

Once a substance abuse evaluation is completed, a recommendation will be made about the appropriate level of care for recovery. Levels of care can range from outpatient counseling and support groups to more intensive interventions such as admission to an inpatient substance abuse treatment for a medical detox or an inpatient residential treatment center.

Generally, you will start at the highest level of care and step down to lower levels of care as your recovery progresses. This may involve some time away from your family and friends for a while, but the long-term benefits of substance abuse recovery heavily outweigh the short-term inconveniences. 

How to Prepare for Substance Abuse Recovery Treatment

Preparation for substance abuse recovery depends on your current symptoms and where you will receive treatment. If you are having severe withdrawal symptoms from substance abuse, you should go immediately to the nearest hospital emergency room. You may need to be admitted to the hospital for medical withdrawal management, and time is of the essence. Get help now and worry about the next steps later once you are medically cleared. 

If your recovery plan requires treatment at an inpatient residential treatment center, you will most likely have some time to prepare. You will want to call your insurance company to see if the benefit is covered and requires pre-certification. A family member or the provider can help walk you through this process. The treatment center will provide a list of what you should and shouldn’t bring for your residential stay. You will want to be as comfortable as possible throughout the start of your recovery journey.

Outpatient levels of care and support groups require no more than just showing up and being honest. Remember, you’ve got this, and you’re worth it!

Common Challenges to Overcome During the Process of Substance Abuse Recovery

The road to recovery is not an easy one, and there will be many challenges to overcome during the process. It has probably taken years to get where you’re at when you decide to get treatment, and lasting positive changes take time. 

One of the biggest challenges at the beginning of recovery is to have patience and grace with yourself. If you are at an inpatient residential treatment center, it is common for people to be focused on their discharge date. The problem is that often this takes the focus away from the treatment itself. You will have a treatment team of substance abuse recovery specialists who you can trust to know when you are ready to leave. Be sure to reach out for support.

Another common challenge to recovery is relapse. Relapse is a part of the disease, and many people relapse during their recovery. Stable recovery is considered one year or longer but complete remission from substance abuse disorders can take years and multiple treatment episodes. When you relapse, don’t give up. You can use it as a learning opportunity to prevent further relapses. 

One last challenge you may face during substance abuse recovery is returning to your home environment after inpatient treatment. Friends and family members may not understand substance abuse and how they can be a support to you. Some solutions to the social and family challenges in recovery are to educate others about the recovery process and share your relapse prevention plan with those close to you. You could also attend family therapy sessions together or recommend loved ones attend their own support group like Al-Anon.

Final Thoughts About Substance Abuse Recovery

Substance abuse is a chronic condition and can affect anyone at any time in their life. It is a disease that can destroy families and lives. But there is hope in recovery! To take the first step, call Transformations at Mending Fences at (888) 980-3053. They are more than happy to help and answer any questions you may have about substance abuse and recovery options.