Substance use disorder can happen to anyone at any age group. For some, it may start as experimental and end up becoming an addiction as time goes on. For others, it can begin with taking prescribed medicine from a friend, relative, or even a doctor. Long-term consequences can result from substance use. These can range from health issues to legal problems and financial issues. The good news is that there’s help available through various resources, including rehab centers like Green Mountain Treatment Center in New Hampshire.
What Is Addiction?
Addiction is a disease. It manifests by using a substance even though it may have life-threatening consequences. Those who have a substance use disorder have an intense desire to use a substance to the point it becomes their only focus. Changes in the brain’s wiring cause the intense cravings of a drug and makes it difficult to stop.
Drugs and Your Brain
Drugs affect your brain by targeting your brain’s reward system. They release a chemical called dopamine that gives you an intense feeling of pleasure. If you want to keep feeling that euphoria or high, you’ll need to consume more of the drug. It will also change your brain’s chemical systems and circuits. This can lead to problems with your memory, judgment, learning ability, and decision-making skills.
While not every person who uses drugs becomes addicted, there are risk factors that can raise your chances. Your genetics account for 40% to 60% of your risk for addiction. Another risk factor is your environment. For example, a chaotic home life, abuse, your parent’s attitude toward drugs or their use, peer influence, community attitude toward drugs, and poor academics can all be risk factors for substance use.
Mental disorders also raise your risk of having a substance use issue. Those who are dealing with a mental health problem often self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to feel better. The type of drug may affect your ability to become addicted. It also contributes to how fast you can become addicted. Opioids are one class of drug that has a higher risk to cause addiction. They also cause addiction more quickly than other substances.
Warning Signs of Addiction
There are many warning signs of addiction. You may experience some of them or only a few of them. Regardless of whether you’re displaying just a few warning signs, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek help or treatment or that your addiction is not as severe. Warning signs to watch for include:
1. Feeling that you need to use the drug daily or multiple times a day
2. Strong urges for the drug that cloud your thoughts
3. Needing to take more of the drug to get the same effect
4. Taking large amounts of the drug for an extended period
5. Spending money on the drug even if you don’t have it
6. Engaging in poor behaviors to get the drug, such as stealing
7. Ensuring you have a supply of the drug
8. Not meeting life, social, or work responsibilities because of drug use
9. Partaking in risky behaviors while under the influence, such as driving or having sex
10. Not being able to stop taking the drug or experiencing withdrawals when trying to stop
Substance Use Disorder
In 2017, 19.7 million American adults battled a substance use disorder. This included 14.5 million people dealing with alcohol use disorder and 7.5 million people living with an addiction to illicit substances. The most commonly abused substances outside of alcohol are marijuana and opioids. It’s also important to note that one out of eight adults struggled with both a drug use disorder and alcohol use disorder. Comorbidity was also found among 8.5 million adults with mental health disorders and a substance use disorder.
Compared to national averages, young adults in New Hampshire have higher rates for drug and alcohol misuse. In New Hampshire and across the nation, most of those who need treatment for a substance use disorder do not receive it. In fact, over 94% of those who needed treatment did not receive it in 2017.
Relapse rates for substance use disorders range between 40% and 60%. Only 10% of American adults say they are in recovery from a substance use disorder. While that number is high, addiction is a treatable disease provided you find the program that works best for you.
There are four categories for symptoms of substance use disorder:
• Social problems – Substance use can cause the failure of responsibilities at work, school, or home. Leisure, work, and social activities are often given up or reduced because of the substance.
• Impaired control – It can seem impossible to resist the cravings or urges to use a substance. There’s sometimes a lack of desire to quit or cut back, and many have failed attempts to do so.
• Drug effects – This refers to tolerance (the need for more of a drug to get the same effects). It also refers to withdrawal symptoms, which will vary based on the type of substance you’re using.
• Risky use – The drug of choice is used in risky settings, such as while driving. This can also refer to mixing substances and continuing to use even though it’s a known problem.
Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol is the most misused drug in the United States. A survey in 2017 estimated that 14.5 million American adults suffered from alcohol use disorder. Nationwide, alcohol is the third-leading cause of preventable deaths. In New Hampshire, excessive drinking results in 341 deaths each year.
In 2018, about 47% of liver diseases were alcohol-related. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, problem drinking or alcohol addiction is found in over half of American adults’ family histories. Compared to the national average of 50% of family alcohol problems, 38% of New Hampshire young adults say their family has/had issues with alcohol. Over 10% of American children live with a parent who struggles with alcohol problems.
Binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks in a two-hour period for a man or four drinks for a woman. Most binge drinkers aren’t suffering from addiction or dependence on alcohol. Binge drinking commonly occurs among adults ages 18-34. It’s reported that one in six US adults binge drink four times a month on average. Binge drinking can lead to serious health consequences. These include alcohol poisoning, STDs, cancer, learning and memory issues.
In New Hampshire, 15% of college students believe they have a drinking problem. Up to 10% have tried to stop drinking. It’s also important to note that 23% of college students in New Hampshire report being taken advantage of sexually while drinking, and 24% report having unprotected sex under the influence of alcohol.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, alcohol is the number one drug of choice for teenagers. Teens misuse alcohol because of peer pressure and access to the substance. In 2018, 8% of 8th graders, 18% of 10th graders, and 30% of 12th graders consumed alcohol.
In New Hampshire, 18% of students in grades 9 to 12 say they have had five or more drinks in a couple hour period in the past 30 days. Over 10% of New Hampshire students drank before age 13, and almost 30% currently drink. Over 40% of high school students received alcohol from someone else.
Teens who use alcohol are more at risk to be a victim of rape or assault, have unprotected sex, and die in car crashes. Alcohol alters the growing teen brain as well. Studies show that alcohol use during the formative years leads to an increased risk of developing a substance use disorder in the future. It also negatively impacts brain development, causing learning problems.
Chronic alcohol consumption increases the risk of certain diseases and health issues. This includes mouth, liver, throat, breast, and esophageal cancer. It can raise the risk of heart issues, such as cardiomyopathy. The risks for brain damage, ulcers, pancreatitis, and a weakened immune system are also increased.
Warning signs that a loved one may have had too much to drink include:
• Slurred speech
• Trouble breathing
• Impaired judgment
• Memory loss
When deciding to get help for alcohol use disorder, it’s important to choose a proper facility for several reasons. Detoxing from alcohol can be potentially life-threatening. Withdrawals can cause delirium or seizures. A rehab facility that has a detoxification program or an on-site facility to allow you to go through withdrawals safely is a priority. Never try to detox on your own if you have a serious dependence on alcohol.
There are many facilities designed for alcoholics, both inpatient and outpatient. Your doctor can decide which option would be best for you depending on the severity of your symptoms.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heroin use has risen over the last two decades. In 2017, about 652,000 people aged 12 and older suffered from heroin use disorder. Close to 25% of those who use heroin will become addicted to it. In New Hampshire, prescription drug deaths dropped from 2012 to 2013, but heroin-related deaths more than doubled from 2012 to 2014.
It can be difficult to tell when a loved one is using heroin, but there are some warning signs. These include drowsiness, slurred speech, confusion, depression, runny nose (snorting), needle marks (injections), constricted pupils, memory or attention problems, or reduced sense of pain.
The most common types of prescription drugs that were misused were tranquilizers, stimulants, sedatives, and pain relievers. In 2017, an estimated 18 million people had misused these types of prescription medications.
New Hampshire certainly hasn’t been immune to the problem of prescription misuse. From 2008 to 2010, the percentage of New Hampshire residents entering treatment for oxycodone increased by over 60%. It went from 11.6% of patients in 2008 to 18.7% in 2010. In 2011, the number of deaths due to drugs peaked at 200. This was up four times as much from 2000 with 80% of those deaths involving prescription drugs, primarily opioid pain medications. In 2018, drug overdose deaths that involved opioids totaled 412.
Women seem to be more prone to developing a dependence to painkillers than men. This is because they are more likely to experience chronic pain and be prescribed pain relievers at higher doses.
Marijuana use has become more prevalent over the last few years due to legalization and decriminalization. In 2014, about 6% of full-time college students in the US were daily users. This figure has tripled from 20 years ago.
Compared to the national average, marijuana use among adolescents and young adults in New Hampshire is significantly higher. The usage rate among those ages 12-17 is ranked ninth in the country, and use among those 18-25 years old is the fifth highest.
Marijuana is the most common drug that young people 12-17 years old seek treatment for. About 80% of those who entered state-funded treatment in New Hampshire cited marijuana dependence as the reason for seeking treatment.
In 2017, 4.1 million American adults struggled with marijuana use. The majority of those individuals were between the ages of 12 and 25.
Some warning signs someone may be under the influence of marijuana include:
• A feeling of euphoria
• Red eyes
• Dry mouth
• Slow reaction time/decreased coordination
• Increased heart rate/blood pressure
• Anxiety or paranoia
• Exaggerated cravings for specific foods
About Green Mountain Treatment Center
Green Mountain Treatment Center is in Effingham, NH. We house men and women 18 years and older who are recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. While both men and women are treated here, there is gender-separate housing.
We implement a 12-step curriculum that is integrated into evidence-based clinical therapies. We believe in finding the root causes of your addiction and treating them clinically. By working on emotional healing and participating in clinical psychotherapies, a solid foundation for your recovery can begin. Our treatment plans are tailored to your needs.
Along with traditional therapy, we offer holistic therapies for those just starting out in recovery. This includes yoga, gym work, meditation, and experiential adventure therapy. We believe that these activities help strengthen the mind, body, and spirit. They help in calming the mind while releasing endorphins and reducing physical discomfort.
We have a staff comprising licensed masters-level clinicians, case managers, administrative support staff, and experienced 12-step facilitators. For those in need of medical detox, there is a medical detox facility with 24-hour medical monitoring.
Admitting you need help can be a scary step, but it doesn’t have to be. With Green Mountain Treatment Center, you can rest assured that you’re getting the proper medical care you need.