What is Substance Use Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

 Substance use disorder or drug addiction is a brain disease. Today, we’ll discuss what is substance use disorder; its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is Substance Use Disorder? 

Substance use disorder or drug addiction is a condition that impacts the behavior and brain of a person, and it makes the person incapable to control the usage of medication, legal, or illegal drugs. Substances like nicotine, marijuana, or alcohol fall under the category of drugs. The addiction would mean that the person would keep on using the drugs regardless of their harmful impacts.

Drug addiction starts with using recreational drugs as an experiment in certain types of social situations and in the company of people, and then they start using the drug frequently. It starts with exposure of the person to the prescribed medication or receiving medicines from relatives or friends that have got the medicines.

The speed of the drug addiction and the risk of addiction depends on the type of drugs. Some medicines like opioid painkillers have got a higher risk of developing it more quickly than others.

You would require a higher dose of the drug in order to get high over the period of time. You rely on the drug in order to feel good. It would become highly difficult to go without drugs as the dose amplifies. However, if you plan to stop the drugs, the intense craving would make you feel physically ill.

Symptoms of Substance Use Disorder 

Some of the main symptoms of substance use disorder are as follows;

  • Withdrawal feelings if you plan to stop the symptoms
  • Failed plans or stop using the drugs
  • Spending a lot of time acquiring drugs, using them, and then recovering from their impact
  • Engaging in the risky activities when you’re on drugs
  • Doing the things that you won’t do normally in order to get drugs like stealing
  • Keep using the drugs even though it causes problems in your life like psychological and physical harm
  • Not engaging in the recreational and social activities and not meeting the work responsibilities
  • Spending a lot of money on the drug even though it’s unaffordable
  • Make sure that you have got sufficient drugs
  • Taking a lot of time to complete the work than intended
  • You would require more drugs to have the same feelings
  • Strong urges that block all of your thoughts
  • Feelings of using the drugs regularly

Cannabis/Hashish/Marijuana Effects

Some of the main signs of substances like cannabis, hashish, and marijuana are as follows;

  • A strong craving for food at very unusual times
  • Yellow fingertips, clothes, or cannabis odor
  • Paranoid thinking or anxiety disorder
  • Reaction time is slower
  • Difficult to focus or remember things
  • Limited coordination
  • Dry mouth
  • Red eyes
  • High heart rate and blood pressure
  • High perception of taste, auditory, visual, or senses
  • Feeling high or a sense of euphoria

Signs of Bath Salts/Spice/K2

  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • High heart rate, Blood pressure, and Heart attacks
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Perception of taste, auditory, or visual senses
  • Elevated mood
  • Feeling high or a sense of euphoria

Some of the main symptoms of bath salts or other Epsom salts are as follows;

  • Violent behavior and psychotics
  • Delirium
  • Hallucination
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Losing muscles control
  • Issues with thinking clearly
  • Higher blood pressure and heart rate
  • High sex drive
  • Increased agitation and energy
  • High sociability
  • Euphoria

Hypnotics/Benzodiazepine/Barbiturates Signs

  • Dizziness
  • Accidents or falls
  • Lower blood pressure and slow breathing
  • Limited inhabitation
  • Involuntary eye movement
  • Memory problems
  • Thinking clearly or concentration difficulty
  • Mood changes or irritability
  • Limited coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness

Signs of Stimulants/Cocaine/Meth

  • Depression and the drug lower its impacts
  • Insomnia
  • Tooth decay, gum disease, or mouth sore
  • The damaged mucous membrane of the nose if snorting the drug
  • Impaired judgment
  • Weight loss, vomiting, or nausea
  • Changes in body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate
  • Paranoia, anxiety, and irritability
  • Hallucination, delusion, and confusion
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rambling speech or rapid
  • Aggression or behavioral changes
  • Restlessness and high energy
  • High alertness
  • High confidence and exhilarating feelings

Causes of Substance Use Disorder 

It’s like any other mental health condition where different factors play their part in the development of substance use disorders. Those factors are as follows;


Once you start using the drugs, the genetics and hereditary traits may be impacted by the development of addiction, and it would speed up or delay the progression of the disease


Various environmental factors play their part in the initial drug use like exposure to a particular peer group that uses drugs, and the attitude and behavior of the family

Risk Factors 

Substance use disorder could impact any person of economic status, gender, or age. Some of the main factors that amplify the risk of drug addiction are as follows;

Family History

Some families have a higher rate of drug addiction due to the likelihood of genetic predisposition. You’re more vulnerable to developing the drug addiction if any of the close blood relatives like siblings or parents are using it.

Mental Health Disorder

You’re also vulnerable to developing drug addiction if you have got any the mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and depression. In order to deal with loneliness and painful experiences, drugs become an easy refuge.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is a very powerful influence that would make you misuse/use drugs, especially among young people

Limited Family Involvement

The limited family connection among parents and siblings and difficult family situations would amplify the risk of developing a drug addiction. It may be due to the limited supervision of parents.

Early Use

Using drugs at an early age could bring changes in the growing brain, and it would amplify the progression and likelihood of developing the drug addiction

Addictive Drug

Some drugs are highly addictive and they would make you addicted to them in a very short time like opioid painkillers, cocaine, and stimulants. Injecting drugs or smocking would amplify the probability of addiction.

Treatment of Substance Use Disorder

There are various treatment plans to treat the symptoms of substance use disorder. The treatment plan could work and doctors employ various strategies in combination, and they’re as follows;

Behavior Therapies

Psychotherapy, talk therapy, or cognitive behavioral therapy would help you to deal with addiction. The therapeutic treatment would teach you healthy coping mechanisms and reestablish your self-esteem.

Medicated Therapies

Some medicines would help you to relieve the withdrawal symptoms and craving control.


It comprises not using the drugs and allowing the drugs to leave your body, and the healthcare provider would supervise you to detox safely.

Conclusion: What is Substance Use Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is substance use disorder; its symptoms, causes, and treatment; we have realized that drugs could badly impact you physically and psychologically. If you’re addicted to drugs, then you should get help and cooperate with the treatment plan.