Substance abuse can mean using illegal drugs or intentionally misusing legal drugs or alcohol—and continuing to do so despite adverse consequences.
Unfortunately, few people recognize the moment or day they cross over from substance abuse to a life of addiction. The line can be blurry, especially when viewed through the hazy effects of alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, alcohol, and other addictive substances. The fact is that both substance abuse and substance addiction bring with them a long list of risks and dangers that can be life-threatening. Often, the only way to break free is to seek and receive addiction treatment at a substance abuse treatment center—in Palm Springs, an example would be Michael’s House—equipped to provide medical detox and comprehensive psychotherapeutic care.
The Definition of Substance Abuse
Substance abuse is an unhealthy relationship with an addictive substance that alters your consciousness. For those who drink alcohol, this could mean regularly bingeing and drinking more than five drinks in an evening or having multiple alcoholic beverages daily. For illegal addictive substances, any use is considered abuse since there is no regulation of processing or distribution, and a single use can be deadly. For legal drugs other than alcohol, any use outside the bounds of a legitimate prescription for treating a medical issue is defined as drug abuse.
Substance abuse can be life-threatening, but not in the same way that substance addiction is deadly. Acute health problems related to substance abuse are common, but chronic health ailments take much longer to develop. Issues at home and work may mean problems but rarely mean losing a job or a family situation. The most significant risk of substance abuse is death by accident. Driving while under the influence of any addictive substance is one of the most common causes of death, followed by violence under the same circumstances and unprotected sex that leads to the transmission of deadly diseases like HIV.
When Abuse Turns Into Addiction
When substance abuse begins to infect every aspect of the patient’s life and becomes a daily or almost-daily occurrence or obsession, it becomes an addiction. Here are just a few of the most common signs of substance addiction:
- Regular child abandonment, abuse, or neglect because a parent is under the influence
- Divorce or separation is threatened or occurs due to one spouse’s addiction
- Job loss due to the inability to get addiction under control
- Failure to find or maintain new employment while addiction continues
- Family finances disappear due to addiction.
- Chronic and acute health problems begin and develop
- Legal issues arise from purchasing or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
The signs of substance abuse may be harder to recognize, making it far more complicated to pinpoint. However, some behavioral signs of substance abuse are easily recognized even if you haven’t been observing someone for a long time:
- Isolation from friends, family, or loved ones
- Suddenly poor performance at work or school
- Encounters with law enforcement
- A constant need to borrow money
- Nervousness and anxiety
- Secretive behavior on whereabouts, addictive substance usage, and current state
The good news is that it is possible to find treatment for substance abuse before it turns into a deadly overdose or debilitating substance addiction. The key is early identification and immediate rehab assistance.
Associated Costs of Untreated Substance Abuse and Addiction
The costs of substance abuse are sometimes hard to define in dollars. How do you put a price on lost opportunities, lost relationships, and lost self-esteem? In the ongoing discussions about healthcare, more focus is being placed on the actual costs of substance abuse when it goes untreated. Here are just a few:
Chronic use of toxic substances destroys the liver and the kidneys. Using needles can cause circulatory system problems, blood-borne disease transmission, abscesses, and infections. If you smoke addictive substances, respiratory problems and cancers are common. The medical costs of substance abuse-related accidents and needed medications to stave off these deadly diseases in their early stages are significant.
Whether the relationship you damage is with your spouse or partner, one or more children, parents, coworkers, bosses, neighbors, or friends, there is no price tag on the effects of losing that support and companionship.
Drugs and alcohol create imbalances in brain chemicals. It is not uncommon to have psychological problems directly related to drug abuse, such as paranoia, depression, mania, anger or rage, and extreme fluctuations from one emotion to the next.
It’s impossible to calculate how your life would have turned out if you had chosen drug rehab earlier. Would you have gotten a new job, returned to school, and had a healthy child or two? How many relationships from the past could you have mended?
Medical Consequences of Substance Abuse
Here are some of the most common consequences of substance abuse and addiction:
- Increased risk of contracting HIV and other infectious diseases – All addictive substances lower the immune system. Still, using needles and the increased rate of unprotected sex under the influence can increase the chances of contracting HIV and other infectious diseases.
- Cardiovascular issues – Abnormal heart rate, arrhythmia, heart attack, heart disease—can be traced back to substance abuse. When needles are the method of injection, issues like collapsed veins and bacterial infections that affect the heart are also a risk.
- Respiratory issues – Bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer, and an increase in asthma symptoms are all related to smoked drugs, including crack, marijuana, and heroin.
- Gastrointestinal issues – Nausea and vomiting can be an issue during the abuse of different substances, while others cause significant cramping and abdominal pain.
- Musculoskeletal effects – The most significant risk for musculoskeletal issues occurs when those under 18 abuse drugs and alcohol. Muscle weakness and muscle cramps are associated with several different addictive substances at all ages.
- Kidney damage – Increased body temperature and muscle breakdown caused by different drugs can lead to kidney problems and kidney failure.
Substance addiction is a brain disease, but it’s also a disease that can contribute to the development of a host of other diseases and disorders.
Substance Abuse Treatment Programs in Palm Springs
If you or someone you love is addicted to drugs or alcohol, substance abuse treatment can help. Substance abuse treatment programs offer services to those struggling with addiction, including detoxification, counseling, and aftercare planning. Most are also customized to help with a particular addiction, including:
- Alcohol addiction treatment program
- Cocaine addiction treatment program
- Heroin addiction treatment program
- Meth addiction treatment program
- Opiate addiction treatment program
- Painkiller addiction treatment program
- Prescription drug addiction treatment program
- Xanax addiction treatment program
- Marijuana addiction treatment program
- Fentanyl addiction treatment program
- Oxycodone addiction treatment program
- Oxycontin addiction treatment program
- Percocet addiction treatment program
- Adderall addiction treatment program
Often, these programs are also individualized for each patient.
Help Is Available at Michael’s House
Michael’s House offers residential drug treatment for individuals who want to enact real, positive change in their lives. For more information or a private consultation, contact Michael’s House today. If you have questions about the substance abuse treatment center in Palm Springs, please call 760.548.4032.