Drug dependency may mean different things to different people. Essentially someone is considered to be dependent on drugs or alcohol when they can no longer maintain their normal social relationships. There are three distinct terms that are used to define substance abuse situations and dependency is just one of those terms.
Substance abuse is the term that is often used to describe a pattern of drug or alcohol use that has led to substantial distress or problems. Substance abuse refers to using any illegal substances or to overusing or abusing legal substances. Alcohol is the most common form of substance abuse from the legal abuse perspective. It commonly includes using substances in dangerous situations such as when driving a car while drinking or continuing this use when it begins to interfere with family or friend relationships.
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Substance dependence is the term that is used to describe continuing this use of alcohol or drugs even when there are clear signs that problems are beginning or have developed. These problems could be an increased tolerance to the substance which would cause the need for more substance in order to get the same effect. Withdrawals upon stopping or decreasing use would also be signs of problems as would spending additional time trying to acquire those substances and using them even becoming ill or noticing other physical symptoms related to that substance use.
Chemical dependence is the term used to describe the compulsive use of alcohol or drugs. When using them cannot be stopped without help, even in spite of the problems that they have caused, it is considered to be chemical dependency. There are a number of substances that are used and abused every day and the most common include alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine, inhalants, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, hallucinogens and various others.
There are a number of things that can cause drug and alcohol dependency and their use. Public laws are in place to determine the legal boundaries for using certain substances. Cultural and social norms also have an effect on substance use. Substance related issues and disorders are often caused by a number of different factors including genetic vulnerability. This means that some people are born with a lower level of resistance to drugs and alcohol and may find themselves addicted much more quickly than others.
Environmental factors as well as individual personality, social or peer pressure and any psychiatric issues may also affect the use and abuse drugs or alcohol. Which of these many factors is the leading cause of dependency is really dependent on the individual in question. Not everyone will have the same leading cause of dependency.
There are many symptoms that can signal difficulty with substance dependency. The most common include excessive lying about how much is being used, avoiding family and friends, using substances in a regular basis, giving up activities that used to be enjoyed, getting into legal trouble, taking extreme risks when under the influence, believing that they need the substance in order to have fun or to function at all, talking about or pressuring others to also use substances and feelings of depression and/or suicide.
There are other symptoms and everyone is different so if you believe that a loved one has a chemical substance dependency, it is essential that you seek help for them right away. If you yourself are dependent on drugs or alcohol, there is help available to you.
It is important to understand that the symptoms of substance dependency can often resemble other medical conditions or psychiatric problems. Often, a physician is needed to properly diagnose chemical dependency. The doctor can use certain medical tests to determine whether or not drugs or alcohol are being abused. The actual clinical findings will often depend on the substance that is being used as well as other factors. Constant fatigue, extreme weight loss, lack of personal hygiene and other factors may be used to determine whether or not someone has a substance dependency.
If a diagnosis of dependency is found, there are a number of treatment options available. The actual type of treatment will depend on the type of substance that is being abused. There are specific programs set up for alcohol abuse for instance, but others for heroine dependency. Other factors that may determine the type of treatment include the extent of the symptoms that are evident and just how much of the chemical has been used as well as the length of time for the abuse. Age, medical history and general health are also determining factors in the type of treatment that may be offered.
Treatment programs are often available on both an outpatient and an inpatient basis and the specific type will again, depend on many factors. Detoxification may be needed along with long term management and these are important aspects of a successful drug or alcohol dependency program. Long term management often includes support systems from professionals as well as loved ones along with group meetings and continued supervision by a medical professional. Families that suffer along with the addicted often have access to support groups as well to help them to deal with the issue and to learn how to help their loved one through their plight.
There are a number of community programs that are set up to help communities and parents to better understand the signs of dependency as well as ways of dealing with it. Groups focusing on families often involve training for parents as well as skills training for families in general, self-help groups and literature that can better help families to understand their loved one and why he or she may be dependent on a specific substance. There is help available for anyone who is dependent on drugs or alcohol. This is not a shameful thing nor does it make the addicted a bad person. It is simply an illness that must be treated and there are many different treatment options available that have proven to be very successful in the past. Being dependent now does not mean that you have to be dependent in the future.