What is Substance-Related Disorder?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 13 February 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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A substance-related disorder is a medical condition related to the use of illegal or legal drugs. These disorders include abuse and dependency on drugs like cocaine, heroin, inhalants, alcohol, and nicotine. Treatment of substance-related disorders requires addressing the underlying dependency or abuse while also managing the disorder and stabilizing the patient. Some people appear to be at higher risk of developing medical problems while using drugs, and incidents in a family history can provide important information about the origins of a medical problem associated with drug use.

Patients with a substance abuse or dependence problem can experience severe withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to stop using the drug. It is also possible to develop issues like memory loss, depression, anxiety, psychosis, and depression while using drugs. Some patients have sleep disorders or sexual dysfunction. Because the use of drugs is the underlying cause, the issue is considered a substance-related disorder.

When a patient presents with a substance-related disorder, the doctor will collect a patient history to learn more about the drugs the patient takes and any attempts at quitting. The doctor will usually recommend drug rehabilitation therapy to help the patient get off the drugs, and will also provide treatment for the disorder. This can include talk therapy, medications, and other treatment options. Patients who quit using drugs should notice an improvement after they go through withdrawal.


Programs to assist drug users who want to quit and receive treatment for substance-related disorders is available in many nations. These programs are often free, although patients need to abide by some terms to stay in the program, such as reporting daily for evaluation. Patients can also receive private care if they want to pay for it or have insurance to cover it. Continuity of care is important in all cases to make sure patients receive consistent and attentive care.

Drugs can cause permanent changes in brain chemistry. In some cases, a substance-related disorder will not resolve when the patient stops using drugs. The patient may need to continue with medication and therapy for life. Drug-induced psychosis, for example, can become a permanent mental health problem for the patient. It can take time to determine whether changes will resolve, and it is important for patients to receive supportive care during their recovery from substance addiction or dependency. Even if a substance-related disorder does not improve, drug cessation will help the patient avoid other health problems and risks.



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