What is Substance Abuse Disorder?

When an individual uses alcohol or drugs consistently, changes occur in the brain, mental abilities, behavior, emotional responses, and more. These changes may occur quickly, depending upon use, or slowly over time. Sadly, these changes may precipitate other mental health conditions or worsen existing ones. “Researchers have found that about half of individuals who experience a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) during their lives will also experience a co-occurring mental disorder and vice versa. Co-occurring disorders can include anxiety disordersdepressionattention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)bipolar disorderpersonality disorders, and schizophrenia, among others.”

“Addiction is more than just compulsive drug taking—it can also produce far-reaching health and social consequences…” Drug and alcohol abuse interferes with a person’s normal functioning in the family, school, work, and the community. Drug abuse and addiction increase a person’s risk for various mental and physical illnesses related to a drug-abusing lifestyle or the toxic effects of the drugs themselves.”


Drug addiction symptoms or behaviors include but is not limited to:

  • Feeling that you need to use the drug regularly — daily or even several times a day
  • Having intense urges for the drug that block out any other thoughts
  • Over time, needing more of the drug to get the same effect
  • Taking larger amounts of the drug over a longer period of time than you intended
  • Making certain that you maintain a supply of the drug
  • Spending money on the drug, even though you can’t afford it
  • Not meeting obligations and work responsibilities, or cutting back on social or recreational activities because of drug use
  • Continuing to use the drug, even though you know it’s causing problems in your life or causing you physical or psychological harm
  • Doing things to get the drug that you normally wouldn’t do, such as stealing
  • Driving or doing other risky activities when you’re under the influence of the drug
  • Spending a good deal of time getting the drug, using the drug or recovering from the effects of the drug
  • Failing in your attempts to stop using the drug
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop taking the drug

Those are some of the symptoms of SAD or SUD. Oftentimes, an individual will seek a detox program to address the ongoing symptoms of addiction. Unfortunately, detox alone does NOTHING to address why a person uses substances, managing co-occurring conditions, what the triggers may be, and how to negotiate SUD after detox.

What is Detox?

Detox is the first “component in the continuum of healthcare services for substance-related disorders.” The purpose of detox is to rid the body of all substances that have been consumed. The process can take 3-10 days, depending upon the individual’s intake of alcohol/drugs. Some drugs may take weeks to leave the body. A detox may occur in a hospital setting or acute care clinics. Detoxification may also occur in one’s home without medical attention. This type of detox, done at home without medical assistance, is often referred to as going “cold turkey.” When a person addicted to drugs and alcohol stops using substances, the body goes into withdrawal. Depending upon the substance(s), withdrawal may be uncomfortable to dangerous. Some withdrawal symptoms may be but are not limited to:

  1. Rapid heart rate
  2. Hallucinations
  3. Seizures
  4. Muscle and bone pain
  5. Insomnia
  6. Vomiting
  7. Depression
  8. Anxiety

Today, the preferred approach to detox is a medical model of detoxification with the help of physicians and nurses. Physicians may prescribe medication to minimize the severity of the withdrawal symptoms and its impact on the body. Sometimes, because people combine substances, anti-psychotic medication is needed to offset the side effects of withdrawal.

The purpose of detoxification is to clear the toxins caused by ingesting drugs and alcohol from the brain, organs, and body tissues. “A detoxification program is not designed to resolve longstanding psychological, social, and behavioral problems associated with alcohol and drug abuse.”

According to the National Institute of Health, there are three components of detoxification:

  1. Evaluation: testing for the presence of substances in the bloodstream, screening for co-occurring mental and physical conditions. A comprehensive physical, emotional, mental, and social assessment is advised.
  2. Stabilization: This step requires assistance to help the patient move through acute withdrawal to achieve a stable medical substance-free state.
  3. Fostering patient entry into treatment: This last phase of detox is urgent. Too often, a patient will detox and then return home to fall back into addictive behavior. Helping patients understand that after detox, the work of recovery truly begins as the addict must address a multitude of issues surrounding addiction.

Successful linkage from detox to treatment programs can help reduce “the revolving door.” Too often a person receives assistance to move through detoxification, but does not go into treatment, and soon that same individual reverts back to using substances again. It is considered best practice to move from detox directly into substance abuse treatment without any break or delay in treatment for SUD.

Outpatient Detox

Not all treatment facilities are equipped to handle detoxification. Sometimes a client will need to go to a designated detox facility. However, suppose a person cannot afford to go to a treatment facility that requires time away from daily obligations. In that case, it is possible to go through an outpatient detox program or ambulatory care available. Like the medical model detox briefly discussed earlier, an individual can go through outpatient detox with medical assistance. Most of these cases are for people not suffering from severe addiction. Outpatient detox does not provide the client with 24- hour care by a trained nurse and physician. In an emergency, the client would have to visit an emergency room. A client must attend detoxification sessions at an authorized facility daily (day or evening). This type of detox is best for individuals with mild to moderate addiction problems and manageable withdrawal symptoms outside a 24-hour detox unit.

It should be noted: Treating withdrawal symptoms is not the same as treating addiction.

Do not let fear stop you from taking the first step to taking back control of your life. At Coastal Detox, we can provide you with the latest medical model detoxification possible. We provide our clients with options that suit their financial and familial needs. A client can choose to participate in residential detox or outpatient detox. Unlike many other facilities, Coastal Detox has a continuum of care available to support a seamless transition from detox to treatment.

Call today and make the best choice of your life—break the cycle of addiction, detox and relapse. We are here to help.