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Anyone can become addicted to substances. It’s even harder to stop. Here’s how to find out if you are affected and where you can get help

What is Substance Use Disorder?

Many of us enjoy having a drink to celebrate special occasions or just to unwind after a long day at work. As necessary as it is to take these substances, you may find yourself needing just one more drink. Or you can’t see yourself getting through the day without taking pills.

You might not be aware, but addiction to drugs or alcohol is a mental health disorder. People with substance use disorder often have another mental health issue such as depression  or anxiety.

Identifying common symptoms is key to prevent your well-being worsening and stop substance use disorder from affecting your work, home, and relationships.


Symptoms of Substance Use Disorder

The main symptom of substance use disorder is a compulsive use of a substance even if the consequences are harmful.

It’s important to distinguish between physical and psychological dependence. Physical dependence on a substance means we need it to survive, such as oxygen, food, and water. Substances can also cause us to be physically and psycholgically dependent, but not necessarily both at the same time.

Common symptoms people experience with substance use disorder include:

  • Feeling compelled to use substance
  • Difficulty cutting down
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Increased tolerance to the substance
  • Constantly using substances even when it has negative effects
  • Taken in larger amounts or more than you originally intended


Different types of substances

You can suffer from a single type of substance use disorder but it is not uncommon that people

  • Alcohol
  • Nicotine
  • Caffeine
  • Drugs (e.g. cannabis, heroin, erimin-5, ecstasy, ice/batu)

People also suffer from behavioural addictions, such as sports, shopping, or pornography.


Who is at risk?

Currently, studies show that there isn’t a single factor that predicts if someone will be dependent on substances.

Suffering from this disorder can be dependent on genetic, developmental, or environmental causes.

The impact of substance use disorder can be deadly. Alcohol abuse results in 3.3 million deaths each year. This is a worrying statistic when you also consider that 16.0% of drinkers aged 15 years or older drink heavily.

In 2016, over 275 million people worldwide use illicit drugs at least once. Cannabis is reported to be the most used substance. And 31 million people who consumed an illegal substance suffer from substance use disorder.


What can I do if I suffer with Substance Use Disorder?

The good news is addiction is treatable.

You will notice if you become dependent on a substance. And if you aren’t aware of the problem yourself, friends or family will inform you if your intake of alcohol or drugs is disrupting your normal daily life.

Take the first step and seek professional help. Speak with a psychiatrist or psychologist to find out different course of treatments available. This may involve subscribing to an alcohol/narcotics anonymous group, drug rehabilitation centre, or having replacement therapy in a hospital.


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Mental Health Association Sarawak
2991, Block 10 KCLD, Wisma Keretapi
Q3A, Bormill Commercial Centre,
93200 Kuching, Sarawak
Tel / Fax:  +60 (082) 231 459