The holidays are a stressful time of year. During the holidays, there are many traditions, and triggers, for people that suffer from substance use disorder. Substance use disorder is more common that most people think. There are memories associated with this time of year and even personal turmoil while reflecting on the holidays. It appears to be socially acceptable to cope with these feelings by drinking or abusing substances, but the damage it covers and perpetuates, can be harmful.

Substances have been used for centuries to numb the senses and aid in curing all matters of infirmities. Medically, substances have made it possible to perform many advanced procedures to save lives. But with great power comes great responsibility. These powerful tools: drugs, medicines, prescriptions and all matter of chemical combinations are strong. They have the ability to make changes in our bodies that are unexpected and foreign. Our bodies are designed to react to these changes for survival. It’s that basic instinct that we are manipulating when we consume substances.

Here are 5 things that you need to know about substance use disorder.

1. Substance Use Disorder is Co-Occurring

Substance use disorder usually doesn’t occur on its own. There is a high probability that other mental health concerns exist as well. This is why the utilization of dual diagnosis techniques are imperative to a long-term recovery. Addressing mental health concerns as well as substance use disorders can also prevent the frequency and severity of relapse. Becuase of the powerful effects of substances on our bodies, more symptoms can develop. This makes finding and solving the original problem more difficult.

2. Masking Symptoms May Create New Ones

As substance use disorders progress, other medical and psychological symptoms may develop. So while there may be some temporary sensations of relief, it is just that, temporary. Once that feeling is gone, we’re right back to where we started. The consequences of prolonged substance abuse may cause other life long problems. Smoking has been found to cause:

  • Lung Cancer
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Asthma
  • Reproductive Effects in Women
  • Premature, Low Birth Weight Babies
  • Diabetes
  • Blindness/ Cataracts
  • Over 10 other types of Cancer

Learn more about the effects of smoking here.

Drinking alcohol, misusing prescription drugs or use of other street drugs can also cause major medical problems. The list of risks associated with abusing substances is long and seemingly never ending. With that in mind, the temporary high is not worth the long-term outcomes.

3. Relapses will happen

Substance use disorder is a chronic relapsing disease. Approaching substance use disorder with some realistic expectations will help recovery stick. Developing a relapse prevention plan from the beginning will help when relapses occur. Knowing that substance use disorder is a chronic relapsing disease, approaching recovery can be scary. The fear of failure plays a large role in the process. It is important to understand that relapses are not failures. Relapses happen. We are not always as strong as we want to be, but the most important part of the relapse is when you decide to find help again. And again. This is why recovery is a process. We all have our own way of finding what works to help make recovery a long-term solution.

4. Substance Use Disorder isn’t Just About Drugs & Alcohol

Substances aren’t just drugs and booze. Substance use disorder can also mean utilizing other substances improperly to the point that it is detrimental to your health. Eating disorders, prescription pain medications and abusing over the counter medicines can also fall under the substance use disorder label. Anytime you cover up your feelings with a “thing,” you’ll fall into this cycle. Substance use disorder is about telling yourself a story, a story that is not true. You are telling the story that this substance makes you happy. It doesn’t. You tell yourself that more of this substance will make you happy. It still doesn’t… and so it goes.

5. Recovery is Possible

Honesty is key. Take a step back and honestly look at your current situation. How does practicing use of substances hurt you and those around you? There is no shame in wanting to feel better. There is no shame in finding help. Both of these things are possible, but an action is required. Recovery is a choice that will absolutely guarantee that you feel better. Allowing others to help you identify problems and find healthy solutions will provide you with a life worth living to the fullest.

Happiness is possible when we educate ourselves. Finding help for substance use disorder is one way to address current problems and past issues. Mental health conditions are often found with substance use disorder. Masking symptoms doesn’t make them go away. It is a very temporary feeling when we use substances to make us feel a certain way. Recovery will make it possible to find healthy, permanent solutions for all of the feelings you are trying to cover up.

There is hope, we can help. Talk to our friendly admissions team today to find the solutions you need: 1-888-358-8998