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Substance use disorder (SUD) is a complex condition in which there is uncontrolled substance use despite harmful consequences. People with SUD have an intense focus on using a particular substance(s) such as alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs. This becomes an issue to the point where the person's ability to function in day-to-day life becomes impaired. People keep using the substance even when they know it is causing or will cause problems. The most severe SUDs are sometimes called addictions.

People can develop an addiction to:

  • Alcohol

  • Marijuana

  • Inhalants, such as paint thinners and glue

  • Opioid pain killers, such as codeine and oxycodone, heroin

  • Sedatives, hypnotics, and anxiolytics (medicines for anxiety such as tranquilizers)

  • Cocaine, methamphetamine, and other stimulants

  • Tobacco

  • Soda/Pop

  • Sex

  • Gambling

Addiction according to People with a substance use disorder may have distorted thinking and behaviors. Changes in the brain's structure and function cause people to have intense cravings, changes in personality, abnormal movements, and other behaviors. Brain imaging studies show changes in the areas of the brain that relate to judgment, decision making, learning, memory, and behavioral control.

Many of us have some kind of addiction, whether sucking on our hair, biting our fingernails, or drugs. We all have a habit of some type, and many of them are harmful. Years ago, I worked in an operating room at Children's Hospital when they brought in a young 14-year-old girl with a ball of hair in her stomach called a bezoar, YES, stomach!

What is a bezoar? A bezoar (BE-zor) is a solid mass of indigestible material that accumulates in your digestive tract, most commonly found in the stomach, sometimes causing a blockage. The surgeon went in laparoscopically, made an incision in the stomach where we could see hair the size of a tennis ball!

What is your addiction? Are you working on fixing it or are you happy knowing how it's affecting you and your family or your health?

My addiction will be the topic next week. I hope you come back for more!

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