medical IDs for substance abuse disorders

Medical IDs for Substance Abuse Disorders

The confidence to live with substance abuse disorders

Substance abuse disorders are a growing concern in the United States today. This disease affects a person’s brain and causes difficulty controlling the use of drugs, alcohol, or medications. Knowing that this behavior is dangerous doesn’t help the person to stop. 

People who have a substance abuse disorder experience difficulty in everyday functioning, including maintaining relationships and successful job performance, among other problems. The most serious complication of substance abuse disorders is overdose and death.

Treatment can help improve the lives of people with substance abuse disorders. With support from family, friends, healthcare professionals, and structured programs, many people can recover.

Medical IDs for substance abuse disorders can play an important role in providing extra safety for folks living with these conditions.

How MedicAlert protects those living with substance abuse disorders

One thing you shouldn’t worry about is what could happen if there’s a medical emergency. MedicAlert’s protection plans offer benefits that extend beyond the ID, providing safety and peace of mind for people living with substance abuse disorders, their families and caregivers.

24/7 Emergency Response

Our team provides first responders the information they need to provide fast, accurate care.

Digital Health Profile

All your vital information, all in one place for you and your caregiver.

Emergency Contact Notification

In an emergency, we connect families so that no one is alone in a crisis.

24/7 Emergency Response

Our team provides first responders the information they need to provide fast, accurate care.

Pair a medical ID for substance abuse disorders with the protection plan that’s right for you.

What exactly is a substance abuse disorder?

Substance abuse disorder is also called drug addiction and chemical dependency. The substances abused include alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, opiates, barbiturates, hallucinogens, and psychostimulants.

In the United States, Mental Health America reports that 16 million adults and nearly 300,000 children struggle with alcohol dependency; 21.6 million people age 12 and older are addicted to substances like opiates, sedatives, barbiturates, hallucinogens, and psychostimulants.

Even though substance abuse causes harmful consequences, it is very difficult for people with substance abuse disorder to stop using the substance or substances they are addicted to. Substance abuse disorder is a medical problem. It affects the brain’s structure and function, creating challenging behaviors around addictive substances.

People with substance abuse disorder need to keep increasing the amount of the substance they abuse to achieve feelings of satisfaction and to avoid withdrawal symptoms, which can cause disruptive physical symptoms.

Being a MedicAlert member is very worthwhile. If you have any allergies, diabetes, or just simply take any medication - you should have a MedicAlert ID. It is the best way to go. I am very happy with my MedicAlert ID and membership plan.

Linda Smethers, MedicAlert member

What causes substance abuse disorders?

The causes of substance abuse disorders are complex. A person with a substance abuse disorder usually has a combination of factors present that have contributed to the development of this disorder. These include the following:

  • Genetic predisposition- having a close relative, such as a parent, with a substance abuse disorder can increase your risk of developing one

  • Mental health disorders- these commonly occur along with substance abuse disorders, which can be triggered by the difficulties mental health disorders cause
  • Stress- excess stress, due to environmental, economic, and social difficulties outside of a person’s control, can lead to the development of substance abuse as a maladaptive coping mechanism
  • Childhood trauma- abuse and neglect in childhood greatly increase the risk of developing substance abuse disorder later in life
  • Lack of social support- being alone with struggles not only increases the risk of developing a substance abuse disorder, but also makes it more difficult to recover from it
  • Poor understanding- not grasping the seriousness of substance use can lead to a person believing casual use is ok and will not lead to addiction

Additionally, a growing public health crisis is the addiction to prescription pain medications. Although someone may have started using the medication for a valid purpose, a person with other predisposing factors can become addicted to the use of these medications. They may use excessive amounts, sometimes even after the original medical problem is resolved.

What to engrave on your MedicAlert ID for substance abuse disorders:

MedicAlert offers free custom engraving on all our medical ID products. The engraving on your ID should include the critical medical information that first responders need to know in an accident or emergency.

The best things to engrave on medical IDs for substance abuse disorders include:

  • Your medical history, including what type of substance has been abused in the past
  • Any allergies 
  • Use of any medications, including rescue medications
  • Any other information that should be easily accessible in an emergency
medical IDs for substance abuse

Sample engraving. Consult our team if you need help engraving your medical ID for substance abuse disorders.

What are the symptoms and complications of substance abuse disorders?

The symptoms of substance abuse disorder can vary from person to person. They can be very noticeable in some cases, and well-concealed in others. If you notice the following symptoms of substance abuse disorders, it’s important to have a conversation with your doctor:

  • Devoting a lot of time to getting, using, or recovering from the use of a substance
  • Strong cravings for alcohol or specific drugs
  • Using larger amounts of drugs or alcohol than planned, or for longer than planned
  • Ongoing desire to reduce the use of alcohol or drugs, with unsuccessful attempts
  • Chronic use of alcohol or drugs that interferes with work, home, or school responsibilities
  • Using drugs or alcohol instead of participating in hobbies or activities you enjoy
  • Continuing to use drugs or alcohol even though the behavior is causing relationship problems
  • Risky behaviors, like unsafe sexual activity or driving under the influence
  • Continuing to use drugs or alcohol even though it is causing or worsening physical or mental health problems
  • Having withdrawal symptoms when not using drugs or alcohol
  • The need to increase the amount of drugs or alcohol used to get the same effect

Substance abuse disorders can lead to serious complications. The Mayo Clinic describes just how extensive these complications can be:

  • Medical problems including seizures, memory loss, brain damage, psychosis, and death
  • Exposure to communicable diseases, like sexually transmitted diseases, or through the use of contaminated needles
  • Accidents caused by impaired behavior, such as driving under the influence
  • Legal and financial trouble due to behaviors while under the influence of drugs or alcohol

How do you diagnose substance abuse disorders?

To diagnose substance abuse disorders, a careful assessment by a qualified professional must be done. Many times, this is a psychiatrist or licensed drug counselor. Your family doctor can also evaluate for symptoms and a history that meets the criteria for diagnosis, but they may refer you to a specialist for the final diagnosis and recommendations on treatment. Mental health professionals refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to diagnose substance abuse disorders. There are 10 criteria for diagnosing substance abuse disorder, and if a person meets at least two they can be diagnosed:
  1. Developing a tolerance for the substance
  2. Withdrawal symptoms when not taking the substance
  3. Hazardous use (dangerous behaviors while using)
  4. Social or interpersonal problems related to use
  5. Major roles neglected to use the substance
  6. Using larger amounts than before, or for longer
  7. Repeated attempts to quit or control use
  8. Spending a great deal of time using the substance
  9. Physical or psychological problems related to use
  10. Activities are given up to use the substance

How do you treat substance abuse disorders?

Treatment for substance abuse disorders involves a plan to approach the problem in several different ways. A mental health professional usually guides this plan. Each person’s situation is different, so the best treatment options will be different for each person, too.

The following treatment options may be used in combination with each other:

  • Medications to help control cravings or withdrawal symptoms
  • Psychotherapy to develop strategies for coping with underlying behaviors that contribute to substance abuse
  • Hospitalization to manage the withdrawal process safely
  • Therapeutic communities and residential facilities (rehab) that allow for a controlled, drug-free environment
  • Intensive outpatient programs
  • Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous, and SMART Recovery

Along with these strategies, incorporating a MedicAlert ID for substance abuse disorders into your plan to treat and manage a substance abuse disorder can be a helpful safety tool. During a medical emergency, MedicAlert can be your voice, by notifying first responders that you have a history of substance abuse.

This can also help them to understand what rescue medications are best to treat any problems, such as Narcan for potential opioid overdose. With MedicAlert’s support, you can have peace of mind that healthcare providers will have all the critical details they need to give you the best care.

How a  medical ID  for substance abuse disorders combined with MedicAlert  Membership provides peace of mind

Because of the serious risks associated with substance abuse disorders, it’s often recommended to have an emergency plan in place to manage life-threatening complications. A helpful part of this strategy are medical IDs for substance abuse disorders.

In an emergency, a person with a substance abuse disorder may not be able to communicate important details to first responders. A high-quality, easily recognizable medical ID like a MedicAlert bracelet can save your life in these situations. This ID shares important details about your care during an emergency where every second counts.

  • Be your voice: If you can’t speak for yourself, your ID will speak for you, informing others about your substance abuse disorders and any medications you are taking.

  • Provide 24/7 emergency protection: Our team will relay all of your critical medical information to first responders in an emergency, no matter where or when it happens.

  • Keep you connected: You should never be alone in an emergency, that’s why MedicAlert will reach out to your emergency contacts when needed if you are unable to do so.

  • Enable you to live with confidence: The freedom to live your life with substance abuse disorders, knowing that MedicAlert is there for you.
DISCLAIMER: THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. The information in this article is presented for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider for any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.