What is a substance?

Natural or synthetic products that enter the human body from outside and create addictions. They cause physical, psychological, behavioral and cognitive changes in users. They are used due to their property for inducing pleasure and create an artificial state of well-being in the user.

What is substance addiction?

Users have a strong desire for substances and the amount of their purchase can not be controlled by the individual. The individual uses the substance more and longer than originally targeted. Most of the time, efforts to reduce and/or stop substance use are unsuccessful.

Minimum three of the behaviors listed below lead to a diagnosis related to substance addiction.

1- Development of an immunity (An incremental increase in doses with time)

2- Symptoms of deficiency

3- Frequent and unsuccessful attempts to stop

4- Spending a lot of time to acquire, use or stop the substance

5- Reduction or total cessation of social, occupational and personal activities due to substance use

6- Consumption of the substance in larger quantities and longer periods than planned

7- Continuation of substance consumption in spite of the appearance of physical and/or psychological problems

Common properties of Addictive Substances:

The substance creates differences in thoughts, emotions and behaviors when used.

The user disconnects himself from reality in a short time.

The individual starts to search for the substance with an irresistible desire.

The dose increases with time.

The individual spends more and more time to acquire and use the substance.

This situation harms the relationships of the individual.

Substance consumption in Adolescents:

Adolescents use substances in order to cope with negative emotions and instead have some enjoyable emotions. Besides, most of the adolescents do not have the required social ability and cognitive development to escape from substance use. Factors like genetic features, depression, academic failure, in-family conflicts, extremely harsh or free parental attitudes, dynamics of the circle of friends, the reaction of the social sphere towards the substance and the availability of the substance are some of the most influential factors. On the other hand, the support of the family, strong family ties and desire to continue with one's education prevent the adolescent from substance use. Being aware of these precautions help the doctors to evaluate, prevent and guide the adolescent towards suitable practices that prevent substance use.

Due to an increase in the importance of the circle of friends during puberty, friends play a significant role in the determination of behavior about substance usage. The effect of friends is also influenced by other risk factors, especially family factors. If the adolescent has strong ties with his/her family, then these ties may overcome pressure from friends.

It has been observed that there is a development progress of alcohol and tobacco consumption:

1- Adolescents first try legal substances such as alcohol (beer, wine) and cigarettes.

2- The consumption of alcohol is followed by marijuana and other illegal narcotics respectively.

This process may show differences depending on the gender and the surrounding culture.

During the try-out period, the adolescent notices substance-triggered changes in the emotional state. In a sense, when the individual starts to use it constantly, he is actually looking for a change in the emotional state. In case of daily usage, dealing with changes in the emotional state takes his/her whole time. As within the addiction phase, the individual uses the substance only to be able to feel normal and avoid the feeling of deficiency.

Determining the phase of the adolescent is helpful to come up with suitable precautionary and operational applications.