A substance abuse disorder is a pattern of recurrent use of a substance that often leads to damaging consequences.
It involves impaired overuse of a substance and often include features of physiological dependence on the substance, and manifests by the development of tolerance or abstinence syndrome.
Although different people use the term addiction differently, it is used here to refer to the habitual or compulsive use of a substance combined with the development of physiological dependence.
Helping your loved one fight addiction
Helping your loved one fight addiction can be difficult without support in recovery. While you might feel hopeless now, know that PRC Recovery is always available to help, knowing that finding a rehabilitation centre that addresses your loved one's unique needs need not be a challenge.
We've been helping addicts recover over the past few years and noticed that quite a number of people who abuse drugs or alcohol are constantly in denial. They do not believe they need help.
Learning as much as you can about addiction and the different approaches to substance abuse treatment makes it easier for you to understand your role in addiction and how to help them get started on the road to recovery. This page is dedicated to familiarising you on the signs and symptoms of the different types of addiction that will help you determine if your loved one may be addicted to alcohol or drugs.
If you suspect that your loved one has addiction problem talk to them about seeking help or contact us to start a conversation with your loved one to get them into treatment.
PRC Recovery is an addiction treatment and rehabilitation centre in South Africa for people struggling with:
Process or Behavioural Addiction:
Alcohol is the most commonly abused psychoactive substance in our society. Although alcohol is a depressant, its initial effect is an apparent stimulation. Experiencing a feeling of well-being and reducing inhibitions.
According to the DSM 5, alcohol use disorder can be classified into 3 severity levels ranging. Various factors are taken into consideration to address both physical and psychological components to alcoholism.
Alcohol abuse has hazardous side effects at every phase which may lead to life-threatening health complications that can arise during acute alcohol withdrawal, it is recommended to be supervised by a medical professional during detox.
Cat Drug Treatment
Methcathinone is a derivative of a naturally occurring stimulant drug, cathinone, which is found in the khat plant. Users describe feelings of euphoria and increased alertness.
Methcathinone can amplify the action of norepinephrine and dopamine that can cause strange behaviour. Cat produces similar effects as methamphetamine and is highly addictive and can be difficult to treat. Tolerance and dependence can develop quickly.
Withdrawal may be very similar to methamphetamine. It involves physical and psychological symptoms which depends on factors such as the severity of the dependence.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment
Cocaine increases alertness, produces euphoria, and gives you the feeling of invincibility. The texture is similar to baby powder and range from a clear white, to an off-white and sometimes yellowish colour.
Cocaine use becomes easier recognizable as the symptoms become more severe with continuous use. Due to cocaine being a very powerful stimulant, an overdose can lead to the failure of a number of organs and physiologic functions, causing the brain and body to shut down.
Withdrawal symptoms depend on several factors and can be a painful and uncomfortable process and are often the reason why a person would rather return to their drug use.
Crack Cocaine Treatment
Crack cocaine is a purer form of cocaine and it looks like rocks. It’s mainly off-white in colour but may appear pink.
Hiding a crack cocaine addiction is rarely easy as it is short-acting, resulting in the user needing to use more often for the desired effect. It is often associated with a dramatic deterioration of their quality of life.
Crack cocaine is a chemically modified version of cocaine and is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. Due to the very short half-life, it does not remain in the system for long resulting in a ‘crash’. The crash produces apathy and severe depression in users, so a dangerous cycle of binges, crashes and drug-seeking behaviour starts.
Ecstasy Drug Treatment
Ecstasy is a synthetic drug and is similar to stimulants and hallucinogens. It gives an increased sense of confidence, energy, wellbeing, closeness to others, empathy and heightened senses.
Ecstasy misuse is often disguised by the use of other substances which alters the symptoms. Long term effects of ecstasy abuse may lead to compulsive behaviours and neglect of important responsibilities.
Ecstasy is usually combined with other substances, increasing the risk of overdose. It can cause an increase in body temperature that can lead to cardiovascular and kidney failure when taken in high doses. Withdrawal from ecstasy is mild but can cause more serious psychological withdrawal.
Flakka Drugs Treatment
Alpha-PVP is a synthetic cathinone (amphetamine-like stimulant found in the khat drug plant) and creates feelings of euphoria, intense concentration and more energy. Flakka is crystalline and looks like little rocks.
Flakka mimics the effects of cocaine and crystal meth and causes severe side effects. While it may be extremely addictive, the euphoric and energizing effects make it particularly enticing to users who are searching for their next high despite its horrific and dangerous side effects.
Flakka is stronger and more dangerous than other synthetic cathinone's and both fatal and non-fatal cases have been reported. In some people, it produces a catatonic-like state.
GHB Drug Treatment
Used for calming and euphoric effects. GHB has been known as one of the ‘date-rape’ drugs due to its sedative effect as well as the amnesia that it causes.
The most common appearance when consumed is complete unawareness of their surroundings. Some believe that using GHB helps for muscle building as well as enhance sexual desire.
Safe doses are very difficult to determine which makes overdosing potentially high. There is a potential of severe respiratory depression or arrest, choking on their own vomit, falling into a coma or even death. GHB can easily cause physical dependence, resulting in excruciating withdrawal
Hallucinogens Drug Rehabilitation
Also known as psychedelics, these drugs change the way a person perceives the world. It affects all the senses, altering thinking, sense of time and emotions.
A person on LSD might not necessarily be concerned about concealing their behaviour due to the emotional responses evoked by the drug.
Inexperienced users may not be aware of the late onset of the elicit effects and therefore take repeated doses over a short period which could lead to an accidental overdose. LSD primarily becomes a psychological dependence, users are not likely to experience physical ailments but rather a strong desire to take LSD because of the emotional discomfort.
Heroin Rehab Centre
Heroin users describe a feeling of a surge of pleasurable sensation or rush. In its purest form, heroin is a fine white powder but is found to be grey, brown or black in colour from the additives used to dilute it.
With the high potential for addiction, after a sufficient time of regular use, a person will become dependent. For someone with a heroin addiction, life usually revolves around their drug use.
The high rate of overdose potential produces a life-threatening reaction. Withdrawal depends on tolerance, length of addiction, metabolism, and severity of the addiction. Withdrawal is painful and uncomfortable and the reason why a person would rather return to their drug use.
Krokodil Drug Treatment
Desomorphine, known by the street name krokodil, is an opioid derivative of codeine. Krokodil gets its name from the fact that the caustic drug causes an addict’s skin to become green, scaly and bumpy like a crocodile’s.
Like heroin and other opioids, it has a sedative and analgesic effect and is highly addictive. It is fast-acting and 10 to 15 times more potent than morphine. Due to the short duration of the “high”, users may administer the drug more frequently, resulting in physical dependence.
Krokodil is potentially fatal. Withdrawal is savage as commonly compared to heroin withdrawal results in a month of unbearable pain. Desomorphine is the strongest level of addiction and the hardest to cure
Mandrax has a sedative effect that slows down the central nervous system, giving you a relaxed, carefree feeling. It is a synthetic drug which comes in tablet form varying in colour and size. Ingredients include methaqualone (a sedative-hypnotic) and diphenhydramine (an antihistamine with sedative-hypnotic effects).
Mandrax with Dagga is still the drug of preference in the largest parts of South Africa. It is a highly addictive drug and causes physical and psychological dependence.
Mandrax has a high overdose potential, especially when used with alcohol. Overdose is potentially lethal.
Marijuana Rehab Treatment
People who smoke marijuana often experience altered perceptions of the world. Otherwise, normal experience seems extremely funny, or the person might enter a dreamlike state in which time seems to stand still.
There are signs or symptoms one can look out for to know if someone is using marijuana. While many consider it to be harmless, continuous use in high doses shows a reduction in thinking, memory, and learning functions and affects how the brain makes connections.
Overdosing is unlikely, however, many people have sought medical attention. Withdrawal can be a painful and uncomfortable process and is often the reason why a person would rather return to their drug use.
When taken, it creates a false sense of well-being and energy. It is mainly sold in crystal form but could be diluted with household ingredients which gives it different colour variations.
Crystal Meth aka Tik is a potent stimulant. Its chemical makeup results in an intense high that lasts longer than most other recreational drugs. Warning signs become more apparent as health problems become more severe.
The drugs strength or purity is a major risk factor with overdose. Withdrawal involves physical and psychological symptoms. Some people may experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), resulting in symptoms lasting for months.
Experiences include extreme relaxation, euphoria and deep contentment. It is suggested that a person can become a nyaope addict after the first hit. It contains a mixture of substances including marijuana, low-grade heroin, and other additives such as antiretrovirals and rat poison.
Nyaope is highly addictive. It influences behaviour, physical changes and social changes. Another challenge is the composition of nyaope is often unknown making short- and long-term effects unpredictable.
Like heroin, there is a high overdose potential as a result of lung and heart function reduction that can be deadly. Nyaope withdrawal symptoms are commonly similar to heroin withdrawal, painful and uncomfortable.
Prescription Drug Abuse Treatment
Usually taken for calming effects, some would say their experience is similar to the effects of alcohol (talkativeness). Benzodiazepines and Opioids are highly addictive and present a host of symptoms that includes physical, psychological, and behavioural symptoms.
Initial stages of prescription drug dependence might be difficult to show definite signs. DSM 5 describes substance abuse disorder which requires 2 of a possible 11 symptoms manifesting in a 12 month period.
Signs of overdose may vary and could cause serious complications. Withdrawal from prescription drugs is highly variable in that a history of taking high doses or prolonged timeframe have more severe symptoms.
Rohypnol has a tranquillizing effect that causes relaxation and reduces anxiety, it's ten times more potent than Valium. Rohypnol was used to treat severe insomnia, while its recreational use, when mixed with alcohol, causes the feelings of euphoria.
Because it is a central nervous system depressant, combining it with other sedative-hypnotics, the sedating effects will be compounded but it is important to know that some people experience paradoxical effects, opposite effects to what is usually experienced when using Rohypnol.
Overdosing on Rohypnol is potentially fatal. Used as a “date-rape’ drug, the unsuspected victim may not know they have ingested it in the first place.
Exercise addiction is an unhealthy obsession with exercise that can be harmful and is commonly associated with an eating disorder or distorted body image. Many specialists conclude that it is a very real condition.
Exercise releases endorphins and dopamine, the same neurotransmitters released during drug use. An exercise addict feels reward and joy when exercising. When they stop exercising, the neurotransmitters go away and has to exercise more to trigger the chemical release.
Exercise addiction usually starts with a desire for physical fitness. An eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, may lead to an unhealthy obsession with exercise. A body dysmorphic disorder, or body image disorder, may also cause exercise addiction. Extreme weight loss and health conditions related to weight loss could result from exercise addiction.
Food Addiction Treatment
Food addiction typically involves binge eating behaviours, cravings, and a lack of control around food. Like addictive drugs, highly palatable foods trigger feel-good brain chemicals and once experienced they quickly feel the need to eat again. Food addiction is closely associated with eating disorders, including obesity, bulimia, and binge eating disorder.
Compulsive overeating is a type of behavioural addiction, someone can become preoccupied with a behaviour that triggers intense pleasure. People with food addictions lose control over their eating behaviour and find themselves spending excessive amounts of time involved with food and overeating, or anticipating the emotional effects of compulsive overeating.
Gambling Addiction Resources
Gambling addiction is a progressive disorder harmful to both someone’s psychological and physical health. When gambling turns into an unhealthy obsession it affects relationships, work, and usually leads to financial ruin. As with other forms of addiction, gambling addiction is associated with a release of dopamine in the brain, a “feel-good” neurotransmitter active in the reward centres of the brain.
Gambling is a diverse activity and is not restricted to slot machines, cards and casinos. Any form of gambling by playing games and making risky bets to experience the emotional high associated with taking high risks is considered a gambling disorder. Due to its harmful consequences, gambling has become a significant health concern. It is important to understand the signs and symptoms to get help.
Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) ruins lives by causing neurological complications, psychological disturbances, and social problems. Problematic computer use is a growing social issue which is being debated worldwide.
Internet addiction is accompanied by changes in mood, preoccupation with the Internet and digital media, the inability to control the amount of time spent interfacing with digital technology, the need for more time or a new game to achieve a desired mood, withdrawal symptoms when not engaged, and a continuation of the behaviour despite family conflict, a diminishing social life and adverse work or academic consequences.
There is a growing consensus that this constellation of symptoms is an addiction that poses a significant public health threat that needs to support education, research and treatment.
Pornography triggers brain activity similar to the effect drugs have on the brains of drug addicts. Porn addiction is a subset of sex addiction that can lead to serious consequences in many aspects of a person’s life.
Considered a process or behavioural addiction, these compulsive behavioural patterns are repeatedly engaged in despite the negative impact. It usually escalates over time in a way that resembles a substance use disorder.
Excessive use of pornography is one of the main features of the condition that can affect personal lives and work, causing distress and feelings of shame. Understanding and treating sex and pornography addiction demonstrates why people's lives are being destroyed by compulsive sexual behaviour and what we can do to help them.
Sex and Love Addiction
Sex and love addiction are intimacy-related disorders that affect the ability to work, maintain relationships and fulfil daily activities. Other terms describe sex and love addiction as a sexual dependency, hypersexuality, and compulsive sexual behaviour.
Identifying a sex & love addiction is difficult, as people often have different levels of sex drive or libido. Also, a person with a sex addiction may be addicted to different types of sexual behaviour. It is worth noting that the disorder stems from the obsession to carry these acts out, not from the individual acts, whereas a love addict will spend much time and effort on a person to whom they are addicted. They will value this person above themselves and often leads to the focus of becoming obsessive.
Shopping addiction aka shopaholic relates to individuals who shop compulsively and who may feel like they have no control over their behaviour. Shopping addiction is a behavioural addiction that involves compulsive buying as a way to feel good and avoid negative feelings, such as anxiety and depression.
Like other behavioural addictions, shopping addiction can take over as a preoccupation that leads to problems in other areas of your life. As they shop, their brain releases endorphins and dopamine, and over time, these feelings become addictive it is further estimated that 10-15% of the population may be predisposed to these feelings. There are several different types of shopaholics.
Video Game Addiction
Video game addiction is a clinical impulse control disorder and is a very real problem for many people. A gaming disorder or internet gaming disorder is defined as problematic, compulsive use of video games, that results in significant impairment to an individual's ability to function in life.
The criteria for video game addiction are the same as that for addiction to a substance. In both cases, the person requires more of the source as time goes on and becomes irritable and despondent when they cannot access it.
While the harm in addictions to substances is apparent, it is less clear with video game addiction, however, can negatively affect life in the same way substance abuse can. Those who play for hours each day become withdrawn and isolated, foregoing work, school and other responsibilities.
In a culture where hard work or working overtime is expected, it can be difficult to recognize work addiction. Dedication to your work is in most cases beneficial but like other addictions when there are positive rewards it is hard for an individual to stop or seek help.
Workaholic refers to “an uncontrollable need to work incessantly” like an addiction. Workaholics are characterised by having an inner compulsive drive to work hard, thinking about work constantly, and feeling guilty and restless when they are not working.
Workaholism goes hand in hand with working long hours, but the two are distinct: it’s possible to work long hours without being obsessed and it is possible to be obsessed with work but only work 35 hours a week or less.
I Need Help
Addiction is a behaviour that controls you, it ultimately takes centre stage over everything else in your life. Finding addiction treatment centres in South Africa need not be a daunting task. If you are well informed about the available rehabilitation options for substance abuse you can get the help you or a loved one needs.
Even if you haven't found a more affordable treatment centre, we urge you to still contact us. PRC Recovery is here to help and we believe that nobody needs to suffer alone with an addiction problem. We can help you join a support group like Narcotics Anonymous or get you in touch with an outpatient services provider or even subsidise your inpatient rehab costs.
Join the PRC family, people who've gone through similar trials and errors, who are here to help you stay on track and see that a fun, sober life is possible. Sharing what you’ve been through helps you stay focused on why you want to stop in the first place. Though getting sober on your own is possible, it is staying sober that most people need help with. Our goal is to help you maintain abstinence from alcohol and drug addiction and start you on your journey of recovery.