No one ever plans to have a substance use disorder. It is a process, which generally begins with social use and progresses along a continuum from mild, moderate and to severe.
There are many social, psychological and biological factors involved in the progression from social use to severe use disorder or addiction.
Learning about the risk factors of substance use disorders and the progression of addiction can help us protect and prevent a substance use disorder from occurring.
It is true that a person who has alcohol or drug problems in their family is at a higher biological risk for developing a substance use disorder.
It is also true that an individual who is at a higher biological risk can make different choices to prevent alcohol or other drug problems from occurring.
We are all born with an initial tolerance level. Using alcohol or other drugs in high-risk ways will increase tolerance. Increasing tolerance is how an individual increases their risk for problems.
To gain more information on tolerance:
Many individuals believe that substance misuse begins as a way to self-medicate an underlying mental health condition. Research has shown that many mental health and substance use conditions co-occur. Some mental health conditions precede substance use and some mental health conditions follow the use of substances.
According to National Institute on Drug Abuse, “The high prevalence of comorbidity between substance use disorders and other mental illnesses does not necessarily mean that one caused the other, even if one appeared first. Establishing causality or directionality is difficult for several reasons. For example, behavioral or emotional problems may not be severe enough for a diagnosis (called subclinical symptoms), but subclinical mental health issues may prompt drug use. [In addition], people’s recollections of when drug use or addiction started may be imperfect, making it difficult to determine whether the substance use or mental health issues came first. Three main pathways can contribute to the comorbidity between substance use disorders and mental illnesses:
- Common risk factors can contribute to both mental illness and substance use and addiction.
- Mental illness may contribute to substance use and addiction.
- Substance use and addiction can contribute to the development of mental illness.”
(Online: National Institute on Drug Abuse- Common Comorbidities With Substance Use Disorders )
University Health and Counseling ~Substance Misuse Newsletters
Volume 1 Issue 1- October 2018 Overdose Prevention
Volume 1 Issue 2- November 2018 Kratom, A New Concern
Volume 1 Issue 3- December 2018 National Impairment Month
Volume 1 Issue 4- January 2019 Vaping
Volume 1 Issue 5- February 2019 Let's Talk About Marijuana
Volume 1 Issue 6- March 2019 Understanding Substance Use Disorder
Volume 1 Issue 7- April 2019 April is Alcohol Awareness Month
Volume 2 Issue 1- September 2019 Marijuana’s Impact on Learning: GPA and Beyond
Volume 2 Issue 2- October 2019 Alcohol and the Brain- A Scary Combination
Volume 2 Issue 3- November 2019 Meth- A Resurgence
Volume 2 Issue 4- January 2020 What About CBD?
Volume 2 Issue 5- February 2020 A Natural High
Volume 2 Issue 6- March 2020 We are all in this Together- Self Care and the Community (COVID-19)
Volume 2 Issue 7-April/May 2020 Helping Ourselves and Each Other
Volume 3 Issue 1- September 2020 COVID and Substance Misuse
Volume 3 Issue 2- October 2020 Recreational Marijuana
Volume 3 Issue 3- Nov./Dec. 2020 The Resurgence of Methamphetamine in Maine
Volume 3 Issue 4- January 2021 Athletes and Performance Enhancing Drugs
Addiction Policy Forum presents:
The Science of Addiction: Genetics and the Brain ~ This site contains a great deal of information on the science of addiction. Many of these videos are interactive.
Mouse Party explains how different drugs impact the brain and body.
The Importance of Language- Substance Use Disorder- Positive Language Guidelines
For More information on specific substances, visit: More Substance Misuse Resources