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  • Brooklyn Buchan

Substance Abuse Factors and Impacts

By Brooklyn Buchan and Emmalyn Monteith

Addiction to substances and S.U.Ds are worldwide problems that affect all communities..But what are S.U.Ds? An S.U.D is a substance use disorder, meaning that someone misused a drug and it had a negative impact. Some examples of this are impaired judgment, senses, and loss of control. The most severe symptom of an S.U.D is being dependent on a drug or being addicted which is also known as drug abuse. The article “Substance Use and Co-Occurring Mental Disorders” by National Institute of Mental health backs up this information.


Misusing a substance can lead someone to abuse a substance. In addition to all the other factors that can influence someone to start using substances. There are environmental factors, individual factors, and social factors that all contribute to a drug addiction. More about those impacts are listed below. 


Environmental Factors 

A big cause of S.U.Ds and drug addictions is the environment the user has or was in. Using substances is a coping mechanism as well, so if someone has only been in unhealthy environments that’s going to automatically gives them a higher risk of misusing a drug and developing an addiction. 


A big environmental factor is poverty. S.U.Ds and drug addictions are often found in low income communities due to the fact that instead of paying for their needs they are paying to feed their addiction. Those who lived in poverty as a child also have a high risk of using substances to cope with that. 


Another big environmental factor is childhood trauma. Any early childhood adversities or traumas play a role in brain development, so if a child has only been exposed to unhealthy habits or abuse then that's going to change the way their brain develops. This can mean challenging behaviors in the future like poor grades, attention seeking behaviors, and risk seeking behaviors like using substances for example. Substances can also be used to manage pain, to numb themselves or for pleasure. Knowing that this may cause a child or adult who has trauma to start using substances to cope with them.                                             


Children follow their role models and if a role model is actively using substances that can cause them to use as well. S.U.Ds and substance addictions are learned behaviors like most traits. This is the genetic pattern of someone who developed a substance use disorder after learning from a role model who also experienced the same disorder. According to the article “Alcohol and Drug Abuse Statistics (Facts About Addiction)” by the American Addiction Centers states that gene patterns and environment are responsible for 40-60% of addiction risks. Unhealthy environments are not the only thing that contributes to the risk of starting an addiction.


Individual factors 

Individual factors for substance use mean that the choice was made independently, without an influence. This reflects on one's personality, and how they deal with stressful situations.

An individual factor of an S.U.D or drug addiction is how someone deals with their mental health. Not knowing how to manage high stress levels can lead to substance use as a form of self medication. Also poor coping mechanisms for other mental health conditions like, depression, anxiety, ptsd, etc can also contribute to this. People with traits like impulsivity, sensation-seeking, and risk taking behavior are often prone to try substances. 


Most people don't realize that peer pressure is an individual factor of using substances. Why? Because those individuals are choosing to surround themselves with people that influence them to start using drugs. It is completely up to them to use the substance. Peer pressure is also a social factor of using substances. More about social factors are listed below.


Social Factors 

A social factor of using substances are the people one surrounds themselves with and what they see online, these social factors can influence one to use drugs which could lead to an S.U.D or abusing a substance. As mentioned before, individuals are often influenced by their peers who use substances. Peer pressure can significantly affect S.U.Ds and substance abuse just to fit in or gain acceptance within their social group. 


Social media is a major contributor to using substances. Social media causes depression and other mental health disorders, which again,  if not managed it has the potential to lead to using drugs. Substances are also advertised all over social media as well, whether it’s an actual ad or just an influencer posting them using substances.  


Drug ads are targeted toward young adults and teens especially. As you can see the photo above shoves a picture of a vaporizer, decorated with bright colors and flavor. This is a common strategy to get people to use, get people's attention, and advertise better. This is one of the many reasons so many people use vaporizers.


How can we reduce the statistics of substance usage today and in the future? 


Sallie Buchan, a certified drug and alcohol counselor through the Mental Health and Addiction Board of Oregon, has a comprehensive understanding of how to reduce substance use. "We need to start educating at an earlier age about preventing substance use, include more community outreach about addiction, implement treatment into jail settings, increase community funding, and provide more resources overall," Buchan stated.This question can have so many different answers to it but knowing that early childhood years create lifeline habits, we should start education about prevention in early childhood.


Sallie Buchan, a certified drug and alcohol counselor through the Mental Health and Addiction Board of Oregon, has the education and understanding to back up this statement. "We need to start educating at an earlier age about preventing substance use, include more community outreach about addiction, implement treatment into jail settings, increase community funding, and provide more resources overall," Buchan stated.


S.U.Ds and drug addictions are affecting millions of people daily and need to be stopped. 















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