Substance Use and SUDs in LGBTQ* Populations

People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) often face social stigma, discrimination, and other challenges not encountered by people who identify as heterosexual. They also face a greater risk of harassment and violence. As a result of these and other stressors, sexual minorities are at increased risk for various behavioral health issues.

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If Taking Substances Makes People Feel Good or Better, What’s the Problem?

When they first use a substance, people may perceive what seem to be positive effects. They also may believe they can control their use. But substances can quickly take over a person’s life. Over time, if drug use continues, other pleasurable activities become less pleasurable, and the person has to take the substance just to feel “normal.” […]

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How Science Has Revolutionized the Understanding of Substance Addiction

For much of the past century, scientists studying drugs and drug use labored in the shadows of powerful myths and misconceptions about the nature of addiction. When scientists began to study addictive behavior in the 1930s, people with an addiction were thought to be morally flawed and lacking in willpower. […]

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Genetics: The Blueprint of Health and Disease

Why do some people become addicted while others don’t? Family studies that include identical twins, fraternal twins, adoptees, and siblings suggest that as much as half of a person’s risk of becoming addicted to nicotine, alcohol, or other substances depends on his or her genetic makeup. Finding the biological basis for this risk is an important avenue of research for scientists trying to solve the problem of substance use. […]

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The Importance of Prevention in Addressing the Opioid Crisis

As our communities, healthcare systems, and government agencies join in the effort to reverse the epidemic of opioid overdoses and solve the opioid crisis, it is not enough to focus all our resources on treating people who are already addicted to opioids. Keeping people who do not have an opioid use disorder from becoming addicted is an equally important task. […]

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How Do We Get More Substance-using People Into Treatment?

Reducing the gap between people using substances and treatment opportunities requires a multipronged approach. Strategies include increasing access to effective treatment, achieving insurance parity, reducing stigma, and raising awareness among both patients and healthcare professionals of the value of substance use treatment. […]

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MAT (Medical-Assisted Treatment) Medications

FDA has approved several different medications to treat alcohol and opioid use disorders MAT medications relieve the withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body. Medications used for MAT are evidence-based treatment options and do not just substitute one drug for another. […]

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How Do Substances Work in the Brain to Produce Pleasure?

Nearly all substances directly or indirectly target the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, cognition, motivation, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. When activated at normal levels, this system rewards our natural behaviors. Overstimulating the system with substance, however, produces effects which strongly reinforce the behavior of substance use, teaching the person to repeat it. […]

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Understanding Relapse

A person who’s trying to stop using substances can make mistakes, feel bad, and start using again. This return to substance use is called a relapse. Relapse is common and normal and happens to a lot of people recovering from substance use disorders. People will often have one or more relapses along the way. It takes practice to learn how to live without using substances. […]

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Lessons from Prevention Research

Prevention programs are generally designed for use in a particular setting, such as at home, at school, or within the community, but can be adapted for use in several settings. In addition, programs are also designed with the intended audience in mind: for everyone in the population, for those at greater risk, and for those already involved with substances or other problem behaviors. Some programs can be geared for more than one audience. […]

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Why Do Some People Become Addicted to Substances, While Others Do Not?

As with other diseases and disorders, the likelihood of developing a Substance Use Disorder differs from person to person, and no single factor determines whether a person will become addicted to substances. In general, the more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking substances will lead to continued substance use and addiction. Protective factors, on the other hand, reduce a person’s risk. Risk and protective factors may be either environmental or biological. […]

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Know Your Child’s Friends

Childhood is a period of major growth and change. Youth tend to be uncertain about themselves and how they “fit in,” and at times they can feel overwhelmed by a need to please and impress their friends. These feelings can leave children open to peer pressure. Knowing your child’s friends and peers helps parents improve communication, reduce conflict, and teach responsibility. […]

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