Substance use takes many forms and can originate in many different ways. In some cases, substance use commences as recreational or occasional, and in other cases, it is a way to dull emotional trauma. Regardless of the reason for use, substances will likely impose challenges on your life, in the form of mental illness, emotional well-being, physical health, and unfortunately societal perception.
The team at Pacifica Treatment Centre wants to help move the discussion surrounding substance use in a positive direction. This is a multifaceted subject with so much nuance; we want to explore the different elements in hopes of removing stigma and informing the general public about substance use and Substance Use Disorders (SUD). This article will take a closer look at some of the most prominent challenges people face when using substances.
Substance Use Related Challenges
1. The Financial Burden of Substance Use
Casual and habitual substance use can take a heavy toll on your financial stability. We aren’t trying to tell you how to spend your hard-earned money, rather we are highlighting the fact that substances are an expense with diminishing returns. As they become less effective, they will become more expensive, especially for those with SUDs.
This is more evident for people who have fixed or limited incomes. When less of your income goes towards essentials like housing, food or wellness, you will begin to notice the strain on your mental and physical health.
2. Mental Health Concerns
Mental health and substance use have a complex connection with one another. For some, declining mental health can act as the catalyst that encourages the use of substances; to help balance their mood, dull painful emotions, or provide some form of escape. On the other hand, depending on the substance and the frequency of use, you will begin to notice your mental health change and/or decline.
Substance use can progress to a point where your body may develop a dependency to them. Your body can limit the natural production of neurotransmitters and receptors because it recognizes these compounds have been ‘outsourced’ and are artificially being produced by substances. This can tie your day-to-day mental health to patterns of substance use, as important neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and glutamate levels drop below baseline levels.
3. Physical Health Concerns
Another challenge to consider is how substances affect your physical health. Every substance affects the brain, organs or central nervous system to some degree. Some affect your metabolism, others affect your brain chemistry and vitals; such as heart rate, blood pressure, and other essential functions that can put your physical wellbeing at risk.
Frequent substance use, especially for those with SUDs, will actually alter the structure and composition of the brain. Decreases in gray matter within the brain can cause lasting effects, changing your behaviour and thought patterns, which makes recovery even more difficult. At Pacifica, a critical part of our recovery programs involves integrative wellness. These are activities designed to health both the body and the mind.
4. The Risk of Addiction
At the centre of this discussion is the risk of addiction. Substances are inherently addictive, and frequent use increases the risk of forming feedback loops that encourage more and more use.
Even for those who use substances recreationally, the body is always adapting to new ‘baseline’ levels of normalcy. Especially with repeated substance use, each subsequent use will require slightly more of that substance to achieve the same effect.
This has a compounding effect, using more of a substance is a greater financial burden, has a greater impact on your overall mental health, will put more strain on your physical wellbeing and finally; it will continue to reinforce behaviour that may lead you towards a Substance-Use Disorder.
5. Social Stigma
Over the past decades, substance use has been subject to a very harsh public relations campaign. This highlighted a singular perspective of what substances are, as well as characterizing the people who use them. It has been filled with cold, non-empathizing, and isolating language and these antiquated ideas and notions still exist to this day.
Unfortunately, a large portion of the population has been led to believe a range of negative ideas regarding people who use substances. This is why breaking the stigma is so important.
Substance use transcends social and economic status; among lawyers, tradespersons, bankers or factory workers alike. It doesn’t only occur among lower-income demographics, in fact, it’s quite the contrary. A large portion of the population engaged in substance use are employed with stable or well-paying jobs.
We don’t want social stigma to be the primary concern for community members, but it’s undeniably part of substance use. Instead, we are here to help you overcome the challenges that affect you personally. At Pacifica, there is no judgement for who a person is or what they’ve been through. We are a team with a common goal, helping people get better while building a stronger, more unified community.
The Value of Substance Use Recovery Centres
How can recovery and rehabilitation centres help with varying degrees of substance use? You don’t need to be diagnosed with a SUD to obtain benefits from recovery centres like Pacifica Treatment Centre. In fact, we provide resources so that they are available to everyone, to help inform and educate people about substance use, recovery, and rehabilitation programs.
Pacifica is actively engaged in the community, using our platform to make information as widely available as possible and do everything we can to remove the stigma surrounding substance use and SUDs.
If you or a loved one are trying to overcome a Substance Use Disorder, Pacifica’s pre-engagement and in-residence recovery programs have every support you need to help you on your recovery journey.
Substance Use Recovery Programs Available in Vancouver, BC
If you have questions about the programs or services provided at Pacifica, or if you would like help getting access to resources and information, reach out to the team at Pacifica Treatment Centre today.
Call our office to speak with a member of our team or schedule a consultation online today