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10 Things People Don’t Understand About Substance Use Disorders

Ken Smith
Ken Smith
April 8, 2019

Numerous misconceptions and myths about substance use disorders are accepted as fact. This is troublesome because knowing what substance use disorders are and not can be crucial for understanding how to best deal with the disease.

Tully Hill is a substance use disorder treatment center. Our goal is to help patients achieve and maintain sobriety and live healthy, productive lives. We’ve put together this list as a resource to help anyone who is struggling with a substance use disorder or knows someone who is struggling with a substance use disorder.

 

#10 – You Can Recover From Substance Use

Proper medical care and clinical treatment by trained professionals makes it possible for people to recover from alcoholism, substance abuse and other drug addictions. Every recovery is different, as treatment is individualized for each person. Identifying factors that led to the substance use disorder is crucial, as is using the correct treatment plan to help those suffering remedy their substance use disorder.

 

#9 – It’s More Than Alcohol and/or Drugs

Substance abuse isn’t restricted to alcohol and other drugs. In fact, there are other things one can become addicted to – any behavior that consistently disrupts someone’s life and leaves them powerless to stop can qualify as an addiction.

That can include, but is not limited to:
❖ Sex
❖ Internet and/or video games
❖ Gambling

 

#8 – It’s a Disease

Furthermore, substance use disorder is a brain disease. People with substance use disorder often experience emotional, spiritual, physical and chemical changes that make recovery difficult. Substance use disorder isn’t a weakness, moral failing, or a choice. It’s a disease that can leave people feeling powerless about their life decisions. Those with alcohol use disorder and drug addictions are as much victims to their disease as people with heart disease, diabetes, cancer and more.

 

#7 – No Known Cause

Like many other diseases, there is no certain known cause for substance use disorder. While there are factors that help contribute to substance abuse – such as genetics, traumatic experiences, social pressure, family history and more – a single reason can’t be pinpointed as the cause of substance use disorder.

 

#6 – Withdrawal is Difficult

Those who abuse substances become reliant on their drug of choice. As a result, their bodies can react in different ways.

Those symptoms can include:

  • Physical complications, such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, headaches, tremors, aches and pains
  • Confusion
  • Mood swings
  • Emotional anguish such as depression, anxiety, and irritability

Withdrawal is best treated under the supervision of medical professionals, as some of these symptoms can be life-threatening. In some cases, proper medication is one of the only preventions.

 

#5 – There is No “Conventional” Case of Substance Abuse

This is why every treatment must be individualized as no two people suffering from substance use disorder are the same. Remember, since substance use disorder is the result of various factors, it’s nearly impossible for those who have the disease to have the same genetics, family history, traumatic experiences and more in common. The stereotypical image of a homeless, incoherent, unsanitary person does not fit the mold of everyone who suffers from substance abuse. In fact, many successful, family-oriented people can develop substance use disorders. Up to 20% of the United States adult population struggles with a drug or alcohol dependency.

 

#4 – Rock Bottom Is Not Necessary

Some people believe that those who abuse substances must hit rock bottom in order to fully understand how bad their addiction has taken over. However, the sooner the person receives treatment and help, the better. Substance use disorder can be dangerous and should be addressed as soon as possible.

 

#3 – Treatment Options

Finding what works best for each individual addict is crucial. There is no simple “flip-the-switch” method. Some treatment options that have seen success in helping people with substance us disorder deal with their issues include:

❖ Individual counseling
❖ Group therapy
❖ Medication assistance
❖ Family conferences
❖ Psychiatric consultations
❖ Yoga and other forms of exercise
❖ Appropriate aftercare

 

#2 – Substance Use Disorder Doesn’t Discriminate

Substance use disorder strikes all segments of the American population. The disease can be found in people regardless of employment status, education levels, social and wealth status, age, race, and other factors.

 

#1 – No Simple Cure

Substance use disorder is a chronic, progressive, and often fatal disease. It cannot be cured, and it worsens as it progresses. That’s why treatment is so important. With treatment, patients and families can live healthy, productive lives through appropriate management of their illness. If you or anyone you know is dealing with alcoholism or opioid use disorder or substance abuse, please understand that there is help out there. The professionals at Tully Hill Treatment & Recovery can help you live a productive life while maintaining sobriety.

Please note that, whereas most if not all of our older blog posts do not have appropriate, non-stigmatizing language – i.e., substance use disorder in place of addiction and/or chemical dependency – all subsequent posts do and will retain language that avoids propagating negative stereotypes and biases through the use of slang and idioms.

Likewise, we have pledged to follow the guidelines set forth by the Office of National Drug Control Policy and that are conceptually and in general endorsed by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASA), the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and other federal and state entities governing and regulating substance use disorder. We will therefore now us person-first language that respects the worth and dignity of all people; that focuses on the medical as well as clinical nature of substance use disorders and treatment; and that promotes the recovery process.

Ken Smith

Clinical Director

Kenneth Smith, LCSW, QMHP, Clinical Director, joined Tully Hill Chemical Dependency Treatment Center in January 2009. Mr. Smith most recently served as the Clinical Director for the Alcohol and Drug Council of Tompkins County. He was previously employed at Tioga County Department of Mental Hygiene as the Clinical Supervisor for Alcohol and Drug Services. Mr. Smith completed his Bachelor of Science in Social Work at Cornell University and completed his Master of Social Work degree at Syracuse University. Mr. Smith is an OASAS certified dual diagnosis treatment provider.