In this post we will discuss the various effects of addiction on the client, and how it impacts their behavior. In the previous post on addiction we discussed how to distinguish between use, abuse, and dependence. Each of these levels is known for having different effects on the client. At the use level, there is minimum addiction. Use will tend to be recreational in nature, with habitual users normally coming closer to an abuse classification.
At the use level, there tends to be minimal health impact, typically none. Social behavior may start to change, with the user’s social circle expanding to include other users. People who do not use may start to be excluded from the social circle. Again, this will get work with habitual users, while recreational users may have little effect.
The abuse level is when the effects of addiction start to hit. There can be various physical effects at this level, including some that can have permanent harm. This largely depends upon the substance that is being abused. So called soft-core drugs may show little physical harm, while with hardcore drugs you will start to see physical symptoms. Depression, irritability, insomnia, and unstable emotions are some of the possible signs at this stage. With some substances you will start to see weight loss, or loss of appetite. Social behavior is markedly different. Normally by the abuse stage, the social network will have shrunk, and is mainly composed of other users. The abuse of the substance can also start to cause issues with at the job, with increasing tardiness and absenteeism frequently leading to dismissal of the user.
This can lead into a cycle where the substance is used as the main escape from reality. With this comes dependence. Dependence means that the use of the substance is having a significant impact upon the user. The user may become unable to function without repeated use of the substance. This can cause a complete breakdown in the user’s social environment. Oftentimes, keeping a job will be very difficult at this level.
With most drugs, health is affected as the tolerance cycle progresses. The user consumes ever increasing dosages of the substance to yield their desired effect. This can have very bad side effects such as blacking out, seizures, heart and lung failure, and even death.
Oftentimes a user will go through the tolerance cycle many times. The spiraling health, mental, and social effects of dependence and abuse on the drug will lead to the user stopping for a short amount of time. However, addiction will remain and tend to lead them to use again.
These are just some of the effects of addiction and substance abuse. With the addiction related social work field growing quickly, it is important that you have a thorough understanding of addiction. So make sure that you study up. If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will do my best to answer. Hope that your studying is going well! Good luck on your social work exam