Substance use disorder is when a person has suffered significant negative consequences as a result of substance abuse, yet they continue to use the drug. Substances have been classified into 10 separate categories that are used when diagnosing those with the disorder. These substances are:

  • Alcohol: Alcohol is considered any type of beer, liquor, or wine.
  • Inhalants: Inhalants include glues, spray paints, markers, and other inhaled substances.
  • Caffeine: Coffee, caffeinated teas, and kola nuts have caffeine that can cause addiction.
  • Sedatives, anxiolytics, or hypnotics: These are antihistamines, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines that cause sedative effects.
  • Hallucinogens: D-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), peyote, phencyclidine (PCP), and psilocybin, or magical mushrooms, all-cause hallucinogenic effects when ingested.
  • Cannabis: Hash oil, marijuana, and hashish all fit into the cannabis category.
  • Stimulants: Stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines can cause users to become dependent on them.
  • Opioids: Pain killers, even prescription painkillers, as well as heroin and methadone are opioids that are often abused.
  • Tobacco: Cigars, chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes, snuff, and regular cigarettes contain tobacco and nicotine.
  • Other: These are unknown addictions or addictions that do not fit into any of the ten categories listed above.

There are several drugs that can be sorted into more than one classification, but this list is extremely helpful in distinguishing drug characteristics and how likely they are to be abused.

What Causes a Substance to Be Addictive?

Substances activate the reward system in the brain in some way, causing people to become addicted to the flood of chemicals. The body’s reward system is meant to keep you from neglecting the activities you need to do to survive. These include having sex, drinking, and eating food. The system is a little more complicated than that, but the basic wiring is: if something feels good, the likelihood of doing it again rises. Dopamine is released when your body feels good, and needs are met, such as eating a meal when you are hungry.

As we get older, this system becomes more complex and more abstract things cause the release of dopamine, such as achieving a goal or passing a test. Anything that activates the release of dopamine has a higher chance of being repeated. For addicts, this reward system can overpower the body’s survival instincts and cause people to skip meals, have trouble sleeping, and act impulsively.

What are Some Symptoms of Substance Abuse Disorder?

The symptoms of substance abuse disorder vary because various drugs can be involved. Each substance causes different consequences, but the main consequences are always a loss of quality of life and death. They include various mental and physical impairments that indicate they have problems with substance abuse.

–    Problems with school or work

–    Accidents related to impairment due to the use of substances (such as car accidents)

–    Liver disease

–    Cancer

–    Loss of personal relationships

–    Risk-taking behavior

–    Spending significant time using, buying, or recovering from substance use

–    Developing tolerance for the substance

–    Experiencing withdrawal symptoms

These are just a few symptoms – there are many more, and each one is dependent on the substance that is being used.