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Substance abuse is an incessant use of drugs, alcohol and chemicals that have adverse effects on an individual’s physical, psychological and emotional health. While drug use often starts as a mode of recreation, fun or curiosity, it often traverses into a habit resulting in persistent usage. One of the greatest risks of substance abuse is dependence. What might begin as an occasional indulgence of cocaine or heroin to get a euphoric high, might eventually build up a drug dependence paving the way for a full-blown addiction. Over time, an individual may increase the amount of substance per use and the number of times it is used every day.

Substance dependence can actually lead to an irresistible desire to have drugs or alcohol, difficulties in restraining the usage, repeated use even after experiencing harm and indulgence in drug-seeking behavior rather than other activities, which, in turn, leads to increased tolerance. A continuous use of the substance makes the body resistant toward it. So, an individual starts consuming higher doses to experience the same high as before. Whether the doses of drugs are low or high, they are capable enough to cause substantial harm to the body. Moreover, if the body receives a drug dose that is beyond the tolerance level, there are increased chances of an overdose that can prove to be fatal.

Possible Substances of Abuse
Any substance whose consumption can lead to a euphoric high can be abused. There are different kinds of drugs, some of which are readily accepted by the society, which can be abused under several stages of addiction. While alcohol and illegal drugs like marijuana and cocaine are commonly abused, inhalants like household cleaners and over-the-counter medications like painkillers and anti-depressants are also frequently abused by many. The following are some of the most commonly abused substances:

Alcohol: Alcohol is one of the most common addictions prevalent since time immemorial. Alcohol abuse can include binge drinking and other problematic patterns of drinking which may have devastating effects on an individual’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. An alcohol addict has difficultly in performing his day-to-day activities and his inability to function affects his personal and professional endeavors. Alcohol abuse gives rise to liver diseases, aggression, impaired judgment and mood problems such as depression, etc.
Marijuana: Marijuana is the most commonly abused illegal drug. It contains a mind altering chemical substance called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — responsible for generating the high in an addict. Tolerance to marijuana quickly develops, which compels a person to indulge in heavy doses. It can cause respiratory problems, distorted perception and thought, memory impairment, etc.

Cocaine: Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant made from the leaves of the coca plant. “Coke”, “blow”, “nose candy” is what cocaine is commonly known as in the streets. Cocaine abuse can build a vicious cycle of drug use that can cause both psychological and physical complications.

Opioids: Opioids are pain-relievers whose abuse has currently taken the shape of an epidemic in the United States. Codeine, morphine and heroin are all powerful painkilling drugs that not only alleviate pain but also cause a euphoric high. People with opioid addiction can lose their mental stability and are prone to various diseases. Opioids should be used only as prescribed and stopped when no longer needed to maintain physical and mental health.

Psychedelic Drugs: Psychedelics are psychoactive drugs that are responsible for altering thought processes of the brain. LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, mescaline, ecstasy are some of the well-known psychedelic drugs that are used. These drugs can cause drastic mood changes and visions, even long after the drug use has stopped. Abusers who are also suffering from mental health issues are particularly at high risks of experiencing adverse effects on the health, which sometimes prove to be fatal.
Nicotine: Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances and it is very hard to break free from it. Nicotine is present in tobacco products like cigarettes and is responsible for giving a high to the user within a few seconds of a drag. People who are addicted to nicotine find it very difficult to quit the habit and are at increased risks of developing respiratory and heart diseases, and even cancer.

Risk Factors for Substance Abuse
There is no prerogative for substance abuse; people of any age, race, gender and socioeconomic status can become addicted. Genetics, environment, personality and mental conditions can all contribute to developing substance abuse. Factors, however, may vary from person to person. Substance abuse can sometimes be inherited, which means that if there is any family member who is an addict, the same behavioral patterns can be passed on to the generation. For some people, a stressful environment can also lead to addiction. Unstable relationships at home or office can trigger a person to abuse substances and decrease his or her morale as well. Some people also get addicted to alcohol and drugs to find solace from some personal tragedy or traumatic experiences. Whatever be the reason, addiction can only provide a temporary high but can leave a permanent scar on the health of an addict.

Finding Help
A number of treatment options are available for a person to gain sobriety. Detoxification, pharmacological treatments, behavioral therapies, individual therapies, counseling services and peer recovery programs can be a part of the entire treatment process, depending on the person’s circumstances.
If you or your loved one is seeking the right treatment options, the Arizona Substance Abuse Helpline can assist you in finding a certified medical facility that provides exemplary treatment options to help you lead a marijuana-free lifestyle. Chat with us online or call at 866-857-5777 to start the road to recovery with our assistance.

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