What is substance abuse?
Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. It involves the repeated and excessive consumption of these substances, often leading to negative consequences for the individual’s physical health, mental well-being, relationships, and overall functioning.
Substances commonly associated with abuse include:
- Alcohol: Excessive and frequent consumption of alcoholic beverages.
- Illicit drugs: This category includes substances such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, hallucinogens, and other illegal drugs.
- Prescription medications: Inappropriate use or misuse of prescription drugs, including painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants.
Substance abuse includes conditions such as alcohol use disorder, opioid use disorder, and cocaine use disorder, to name just a few. With regards to alcohol use disorder and ketamine-assisted therapy, one study found a 75% abstinence rate among the ketamine participants compared to the control group. Ketamine-assisted therapy has been shown to reduce opiate related cravings and help maintain abstinence. Similar results exist for stimulant type substances such as cocaine.
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or counselling, is a well-established technique that has been an effective modality for those with a substance disorder. Cognitive behavioural therapy, motivational interviewing, twelve-step facilitation, and group therapy are some of the behavioural techniques that have been shown to be effective for the treatment of substance abuse and addiction.
Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is a non-invasive medical treatment that regulatory authorities have approved for the treatment of various neuropsychiatric conditions. While rTMS has been shown to be effective in reducing cravings and usage there still exist uncertainties with regard to the optimized parameters on how rTMS might help those with substance use disorders.
Health Canada’s Special Access Program enables the use of certain psychedelic substances that are not marketed in Canada as requested by practitioners.Access is typically granted for treating, diagnosing, or preventing serious or life-threatening conditions when conventional therapies or medications have failed. As of right now those with substance use disorders aren’t typically granted into the SAP unless they qualify as being in immediate life-threatening danger. SAP applications are analyzed case by case and, therefore, may be an option for those with debilitating SUD.