According to provisional data released by the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics, over 94,000 people died in the U.S of an overdose in 2020, a 30% increase from the prior year. This is a startling statistic, with this issue affecting individuals and families throughout the U.S, regardless of geographic location, age, race, or socio-economic status.
Understanding risk factors and early warning signs will increase awareness and help you recognize substance abuse problems early on.
Key Substance Addiction Risk Factors:
Common Forms of Substance Addiction Disorders and Early Warning Signs:
Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol addiction disorder (or alcoholism) is characterized as frequent and/or heavy drinking. As an individual’s tolerance increases to alcohol intake, dependence can often occur, leading to physical health, and mental health issues, along with family, social and work-related problems. Alcohol abuse can take the form of binge drinking or long-term use. A study from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Nation Institute of Health (NIH), and National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) found that people who suffer from alcohol addiction can generally be categorized into five subtypes: young adult, functional, intermediate familial, young antisocial, chronic severe. Regardless of gender, age, genetics, or status, alcohol abuse can have a harmful, lasting effect on the body and health of an individual, including depression, brain damage, psoriasis, anxiety, hand tremors, and more.
Warning signs of alcohol use disorder:
Narcotic and Opioid Use Disorder
Narcotics, which are a form of drugs commonly referred to as opioids, are highly addictive. Common narcotics include (but are not limited to) morphine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, heroin, and prescription pain drugs. Opioid drugs trigger dopamine responses in the brain, often causing reward and reinforcement responses leading to addiction. Someone suffering from a narcotics dependency will feel a powerful, compulsive urge to use opioid drugs, and it regularly leads to health, social, and economic problems. This addiction can cause life-threatening health issues, including overdose.
Warning signs of narcotic and opioid disorder:
Tobacco and nicotine addiction disorder
Over-use and dependency on tobacco and nicotine are common forms of addiction. These addictions can manifest in cigarette smoking, vaping, e-cigarettes, tobacco chew and more. The NIH states that due to nicotine’s addictive properties, only about 6% of smokers quit each year.
Warning signs of nicotine dependency include:
Psychostimulant addiction disorder
Psychostimulants, which are substances that have mood-enhancing and stimulant properties, are commonly known in drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, Adderall, and Ritalin. Addiction to psychostimulants has become a significant concern in the United States and globally. The 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that cocaine was the highest in past year dependency and abuse. In recent years there has been an increase in psychostimulant overdose, resulting from these drugs being laced with readily available and inexpensive Fentanyl.
Warning signs of psychostimulant abuse include:
Support and Recovery Options
Addiction and substance abuse can be addressed with multiple forms of treatment, support groups, and recovery options. The type and level of treatment required for successful recovery vary depending on the individual and the substance used.
Alcoholics Anonymous- https://www.aa.org/
Narcotics Anonymous- https://na.org/
Treatment Facilities- findtreatment.gov
Family Support Organizations- https://www.samhsa.gov/families
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration https://www.samhsa.gov/