What is Impaired Control and Substance Use?

When understanding addiction and learning how it affects the brain, it is very important to know the difference between impaired control and substance use. Impaired control can be defined as “a craving or strong urge to use the substance; desire or failed attempts to cut down or control substance use”, however, it can be attributed to anything. People can have impaired control when it comes to drinking, shopping, gambling, video games or sex. It is also one of the very hallmarks of addiction, and often the very realization that drives people to get the help they need.

When it comes to substance use, the phrase is referring to the literal use of the substance. There are many people who are able to use substances without having it turn into an impaired control situation. For example, many people are able to go grab a drink after work, have champagne at a celebration or have wine with dinner without becoming too drunk or having the intoxication interfere with their daily lives.

These two concepts are totally essential to understanding why someone becomes addicted to something. Whether you feel as if you have an impaired control issue or believe that your loved one might, keep reading for more information, what to do and signs to look for.

Understanding Impaired Control and Substance Use

Addiction, at its core, is a complex brain disease. According to Psychiatry.org, addiction is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence. People with addiction (severe substance use disorder) have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s), such as alcohol or drugs, to the point that it takes over their life. They keep using alcohol or a drug even when they know it will cause problems. This is the simple link between impaired control and substance use.

When Does Substance Use Become Impaired Control?

Substance use can turn into impaired control rather quickly. When someone uses a substance, many things begin to happen in the brain and to the body, including:

  • Euphoria. This is the most alluring trait of substances. This euphoria can numb and suppress emotions to a damaging degree. It can be seen as a temporary escape or relief for people suffering from mental illness, trauma or a family history of addiction.
  • Withdrawal. Once the high is over, the body begins to want to experience the high again. This can drive someone to use more and more.
  • Tolerance. Once a person uses more and more to experience the high again, their body will begin to develop a tolerance. This means the body requires more and more of the substance in order to reach euphoria again.
  • Dependence. Once tolerance has been built up, dependence starts to form. This is the point in which the impaired control will really start to develop because the brain has made chemical changes to require the substance.
  • Overdose or Death. The more a person uses in order to fulfill their tolerance levels and dependency, the faster a person can reach overdose levels. This can result in permanent damage or even death.

When to Get Help

If you feel like you are no longer able to control your substance use, there is a very high likelihood that your substance use has developed into an impaired control situation. It is important to know the signs of addiction so that when you start to see them happening – whether with you or someone you love – you go get help as soon as possible. Waiting to get help can result in reaching overdose or death.

Signs of Addiction

Many signs of addiction include:

  • Overactive or underactive energy (depending on the substance)
  • Dilated pupils
  • Red eyes
  • Looking pale
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Becoming secretive about whereabouts
  • Isolating from loved ones and hobbies
  • Abandoning daily routine
  • Change in social circle
  • Marital problems
  • Financial problems
  • Legal problems
  • Irritability or anger
  • Increased anxiety
  • Loss of control over the amount of substances used
  • Using at inappropriate times, such as in the morning or at work
  • Using despite suffering severe consequences, such as loss of job or school

About Cliffside Malibu

While there are many people who can use substances without becoming addicted, there are many who have impaired control. If you feel as if you fall under this category, you are not alone. In addition, you can be treated for the impaired control and the damages it has caused to your life and your health. You are able to let go of addiction and regain control of your life again – and we can help.

Since no two addictions are the same, Cliffside Malibu offers an individualized treatment plan for each and every client. Treatment plans are created based on a client’s current Stage of Change l: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, or Maintenance. This model helps ensure that all patients receive the best treatment path possible based on their willingness to act on healthy behavior. Progressing our clients through this model to completion successfully is our goal each and every single day.

Cliffside Malibu’s policy is to ensure that all people who choose treatment with us receive the best care possible. We strive to provide a continuum of care including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment, and outpatient services. Our program includes not only evidence-based behavioral therapy but family therapy and holistic therapy, as well. Whether an individual is suffering from substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction, our programs are designed and structured to be a supportive environment in order to maintain sobriety.

In addition to world-class treatment, Cliffside Malibu offers luxury accommodations, a serene environment, five-star dining, and plentiful amenities. We understand that addiction treatment is a rigorous process. Therefore, we provide for your comfort and relaxation at every turn, allowing you to rejuvenate, to meet the demands of treatment with your greatest energy and attention.

For more information on Cliffside Malibu, visit cliffsidemalibu.com