Many different substances alter a person’s mood and perceptions, including alcohol, drugs, prescription medication, and nicotine. Substance abuse refers to the harmful use of a mood-altering substance, which results in negative consequences for the individual concerned. Those who abuse psychoactive substances are in danger of developing addictions, which can lead to a host of problems both with health and lifestyle. Repeated use of chemical substances can cause health problems such as depression, heart disease, liver disease, and cancer.
There are many reasons that people turn to mood-altering substances. Young people tend to dabble with things such as tobacco, alcohol and drugs out of curiosity or because of peer pressure.
Those with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression often find that these substances offer temporary relief. However, the more the individual abuses these chemical substances, the greater the chance that he or she will develop a physical dependence, which will, in turn, mean he or she is now dealing with two illnesses instead of one.
Another reason people abuse substances such as alcohol and drugs is that they are dealing with painful memories resulting from a traumatic experience. Studies have found that those who have experienced abuse or neglect, have suffered the loss of a loved one, have been bullied, or have witnessed combat are more likely to be affected by substance abuse than others.
If you are worried about a loved one and believe that this person may be abusing drugs or alcohol, there are certain signs to look out for. In most instances, it is the behavioural signs that will indicate a problem exists, as many of the physical symptoms can be attributed to other illnesses or conditions.
Those who are abusing chemical substances tend to stop taking an interest in certain activities or friends. They may begin to perform poorly at school or work and could become progressively aggressive or irritable. Substance abusers often suffer from memory problems, and many will start to have money troubles. You may notice that he or she is borrowing money continually and lying about what the money is for.
A person who is abusing drugs or alcohol might become secretive about where he or she has been, and may stop confiding in you, having previously been quite open. You may notice that he or she suffers extreme mood swings (happy one minute and depressed the next).
Teenage substance abusers may spend considerable periods of time alone in their room and stop spending time with family members. Adults who abuse substances could spend a lot of their time drinking or taking drugs or may become obsessed with planning activities where these substances will be present. They may believe that the only way to have fun is to drink alcohol and so will start to avoid spending time with family and friends unless there is alcohol or drugs present.
Substance abusers often forget things they did while under the influence, and they may take unnecessary risks, such as having unsafe sex or driving while intoxicated.
If you are worried about a loved one, then you need to get help immediately. Here at Recovery.org.uk, we provide a free referral service for those affected by substance abuse and addiction. Our service is completely free and confidential, and you are under no obligation. Call today for advice and support for yourself or a loved one.