Regardless of what substance a person uses, the use of substances as a means for altering a person’s mind or physiology can quickly lead to problems. While not all substance use is considered a problem, it can be difficult to come back from the problem once it begins. The essential difference between non-problematic substance use and substance abuse (or a substance use disorder) is the social, behavioral, and environmental problems caused from abuse.

Brain Chemistry

Substances include drugs and alcohol, both of which alter brain chemistry. This makes the problem much more difficult to combat, as substances mess with how we feel on a chemical and biological level. The more a person uses substances, the more their brain chemistry is influenced. The more brain chemistry is influenced, the harder it is to rewire that chemistry without the use of a substance.

This is how addictions are formed and maintained despite the negative effects of addictive behavior. Long-term treatment is often necessary for long term users, because it takes time to rewire the brain’s circuits. Some substances require alternative medications to help the user due to damage in the brain’s wiring that cannot be undone via environmental or will-powered changes.

Other Effects of Substance Use

More often than not, substance use will also come along with other mental health issues. This is called a “dual diagnosis”. Many people using substances in unhealthy ways also suffer from anxiety, depression, mood disorders, suicidal ideation, schizo-typal disorders, and more.

Substance use can range from mild to severely debilitating, which is why there is no set treatment option to combat this type of disorder. Every case will require a full understanding of the user’s history, including an in-depth exploration of how and why the substance helps the person cope. The most severe cases often require inpatient treatment so the person can detox in a safe, monitored environment. Lakeside Counseling does not provide inpatient treatment and will refer severe cases to local facilities.

I offer in-person therapy and counseling in Seabrook, TX and virtual telehealth therapy for Texas residents. If you are struggling with substance use, give me a call to discuss your options or schedule a free 15-minute consultation via our online portal today.        

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