Alcohol and Substance Abuse

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University of California, Santa Barbara
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Alcohol and substance abuse is consumption of drugs exceeding the capacity the body can handle making the user become intoxicated. Prolonged use of the substances and alcohol leads to addiction (Najt et al., 2011). In most cases, users become mentally and psychologically disturbed after using the products for a long time. Some of the substances abused include cocaine, cannabis, and opioid, amongst others. All are illicit as they risk the health condition of the users and lead to premature deaths for most of them. It becomes difficult for users to stop the habit of using drugs as their bodies become used to the substance released from the concoctions. It becomes harder when a patient has a mental condition and is an addict to alcohol or other substances (Jiang et al., 2017). Alcohol users have a high possibility of developing mental problems due to the high consumption of the substances used to manufacture the liquids.

Buck (2011) suggests that globally, there are about 30% people hooked to alcohol and substance abuse. Most of these people are youths below the age of 35 years. Most of the abusers start using the drugs from a young age as low as 10 years introduced to them by peers or exposed to them by family members. Reddy et al., (2014) argue that most of the users justify their reasons to use the drugs as a way to escape from the stresses of life and as a kick-start to doing different activities. People suffering from mental health are hard to treat, as prescription drugs do not take effect in their bodies due to the prolonged use of the drug. It may lead to depression in some cases, as the patient is unable to function without taking alcohol first (Connors et al., 2013). They also face a high risk of having anxiety and panic attacks as they suffer from the withdraw effects like hallucinations.

Esser et al., (2014), state that taking the drugs is a voluntary and sometimes an involuntary action. Once an individual becomes hooked, they are unable to function and do their normal duties without taking the drugs at first. This explains why most people appear drunk at their workplace in the morning. Others waste all their resources to quench the thirst created by the alcohol and substances. Monti et al., (2012) point out that chronic abuse of the illicit drugs can trigger the mental conditions even if an individual did not have the symptoms in the beginning. Their psychological well-being functions after taking drugs, which becomes hard for them to stop. They have no control over the actions they undertake as they look for ways to take more (Tarter et al., 2013). People who combine different types of substances have a higher chance of developing psychological and mental illnesses like schizophrenia.

High cases of people suffering from mental problems and being drug abusers have increased in the recent past. Hence, they require a dual-diagnosis program that identifies the extent to which they suffer from the conditions (Connors et al., 2013). Medically, it is sometimes hard to diagnose such issues when presented in a health care center. The patient must provide the full history about their health as the doctors get to find the source of the problems they face. In most cases, the patients may use more drugs as an attempt to suppress the symptoms they have, which worsens the condition. In older adults, it becomes hard to treat as they suffer from other conditions. This is because the patients are forced to take large amounts of drugs at a go (Kraanen et al., 2013) Retired veterans suffer from the trauma they went through when they served in different capacities in the military forces. They may turn to drugs as a way to escape the thoughts they have. Some become addicted as they take the drugs and sometimes alcohol as the solution to their suffering. Intervention programs to help the veterans work as they help prevent escalating of the addiction among users.

In conclusion, patients with mental health issues need immediate medical intervention as they get treatment for the condition. It starts by accepting that one needs help and moving towards the source of help. With guidance and observation from the health care providers, one should make the commitment to avoid having a relapse. A psychiatrist may step in to treat the behavioral changes that the patient goes through as the first step. Therapy sessions introduced at this stage become easy to follow as the patient gets guidance on how to change their behavior towards total recovery. Therapists may adopt different strategies to treat the teenagers and adults depending on the level of addiction they have. Patients can also initiate the treatment process by joining self-help groups like the Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholic Anonymous. There is a high chance of a person getting total healing if they have the commitment towards stopping using drugs and follow the guidance from the medical experts on what they should do.



Buck, J. A. (2011). The looming expansion and transformation of public substance abuse treatment under the Affordable Care Act. Health Affairs, 30(8), 1402-1410.

Connors, G. J., DiClemente, C. C., Velasquez, M. M., & Donovan, D. M. (2013). Substance abuse treatment and the stages of change: Selecting and planning interventions. Guilford Press.

Esser, M. B., Hedden, S. L., Kanny, D., Brewer, R. D., Gfroerer, J. C., & Naimi, T. S. (2014). Peer Reviewed: Prevalence of Alcohol Dependence Among US Adult Drinkers, 20092011. Preventing chronic disease, 11.

Jiang, S., Wu, L., & Gao, X. (2017). Beyond face-to-face individual counseling: a systematic review on alternative modes of motivational interviewing in substance abuse treatment and prevention. Addictive behaviors.

Kraanen, F. L., Vedel, E., Scholing, A., & Emmelkamp, P. M. (2013). The comparative effectiveness of integrated treatment for substance abuse and partner violence (I-StoP) and substance abuse treatment alone: a randomized controlled trial. BMC psychiatry, 13(1), 189.

Monti, P. M., Colby, S. M., & Tevyaw, T. A. L. (Eds.). (2012). Adolescents, alcohol, and substance abuse: Reaching teens through brief interventions. Guilford Press.

Najt, P., Fusar-Poli, P., & Brambilla, P. (2011). Co-occurring mental and substance abuse disorders: a review on the potential predictors and clinical outcomes. Psychiatry research, 186(2), 159-164.

Reddy, S., Dick, A. M., Gerber, M. R., & Mitchell, K. (2014). The effect of a yoga intervention on alcohol and drug abuse risk in veteran and civilian women with posttraumatic stress disorder. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 20(10), 750-756.

Smedslund, G., Berg Rigmor, C., Hammerstrom Karianne, T., Steiro, A., Leiknes Kari, A., Dahl Helene, M., & Karlsen, K. (2011). Motivational interviewing for substance abuse. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 5.

Tarter, R. E., Ammerman, R., & Ott, P. J. (Eds.). (2013). Handbook of substance abuse: Neurobehavioral pharmacology. Springer Science & Business Media.

(Buck, 2011) (Connors et al., 2013) (Monti et al., 2012) (Najt et al., 2011) (Smedslund et al., 2011) (Jiang et al., 2017) (Reddy et al., 2014) (Kraanen et al., 2013) (Esser et al., 2014) (Tarter et al., 2013)


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