Substance Use Disorders-Social Impairment

Hi Everyone! First off a big thanks to everyone who has been keeping up with the blog during my first week. I’m still working out how often to regularly post to this here blog, but still, finishing up this series seems long overdue. If you didn’t catch the first few installments you can click the link below to check them out.

Understanding Substance Use Disorders

Also, today we’ll be playing with GIFs, because I have a blog, and it has to have multimedia and stuff.

Today we’re going to talk about Social Impairment. This could end up being a shorter post because I don’t want to overstate the obvious. This is when your use of substance leads to problems in important relationships. The first way clinicians define Social Impairment is:

Recurrent substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.

This kind of behavior exists on a spectrum. It’s not uncommon to be late to class once or twice due to partying too hard. That’s part of college life, right? But what if you’re failing out of your classes? It’s one thing to have a not-so-productive day at work due to a hangover. But if you string several days each month together, then your boss is bound to have something to say. If you smoke a joint after the kids go to bed it might not be a big deal. If you’re too baked to help them with their homework or play with them, that could be a problem. And as these problems pile up you may find that you’re using more to deal with the anxiety that naturally comes with worrying about your job, or your grades, or your kids. Cue vicious cycle.

Another way of looking at this is the extent to which it’s causes problems in relationships you care about. Are you getting drunk and fighting with you significant other? Did you make an ass out of yourself at Christmas Dinner? Did you tell your boss to fuck off with your out-loud voice instead of your inside-your-head voice? Are people nagging you about cutting back? Were you banned from Chuck E Cheez because you climbed on stage to dance with Chuck E after downing too many beers, and that’s your kids’ favorite place, and now you can’t go?

The official wording for this one is:

Continued substance use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated (made worse) by the effects of the substance.

So you’re having trouble meeting your role obligations, you’re having issues functioning in human society, so what do you do? You cut it out! Right? Not if we’re dealing with a substance use disorder. If we’re dealing with a substance use disorder, you start to isolate. You stop doing the things you enjoy. You don’t quite make it to birthday parties anymore. You reduce how often you go to book club. Maybe you even take your kids out of some or all of their recreational activities. You don’t engage in activities where you can’t use.

Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of substance use.

These symptoms all point to escalating isolation and, when someone gets ready to quit, these symptoms that can definitely make is worse. If you’ve lost your job, pissed off you family, and cut all of your social ties, getting support can be really difficult. And quitting definitely requires support because for a lot of people, quitting sucks. It sucks because substance use disorders hijack your brain chemistry, and making coping really difficult. But that is for another post, and believe me, we’ll definitely get to it.

Thanks for stopping by, and if know someone who might find this useful, don’t hesitate to share it on Twitter or Facebook or via email.