Kent Smalley, M.D.
Addiction Medicine Specialist & Behavioral Neurology located in Edmond, OK
The line between substance abuse and addiction is so thin that most people don’t realize they’ve crossed it until they can’t stop drinking or taking drugs without going into withdrawal. No matter which side of the line you’re on, Kent Smalley, MD, at Neurowellness Clinic in Edmond, Oklahoma and serving the greater Oklahoma City area, can help. As an addiction medicine specialist, Dr. Smalley devotes extensive time to each patient, giving them individualized care and providing treatment that helps them withdraw without painful symptoms or cravings. To start on your road to recovery, call the office or use the online booking feature to schedule an appointment.
Substance Abuse Q & A
What is substance abuse?
Substance abuse generally means that you use an excessive amount of drugs and/or alcohol. Patients who are diagnosed with substance use disorder meet more specific criteria such as:
- Skipping school or calling in sick to work due to their substance use
- Neglecting other favorite activities so they can use alcohol or drugs
- Continuing to use alcohol or drugs even when it causes relationship problems
- Spending excessive time using or recovering from their substance
- Taking the substance in ever-larger amounts
- Continuing to use even when they know they have a problem
Another sign of substance abuse is engaging in dangerous behaviors while you’re under the influence or high.
How does substance abuse become an addiction?
Alcohol and drugs stimulate a large release of dopamine and endorphins, brain chemicals that produce feelings of pleasure, improve your mood, and literally leave you feeling no pain.
As you continue to overconsume, however, the substance causes physical changes in your brain’s chemistry — changes that make you crave the substance.
Before long, the cravings become uncontrollable, and you can’t stop. Your alcohol or drug use then becomes a progressive cycle of abuse. Your brain builds up a tolerance to the amount you consume, then you need to increase the amount to satisfy your cravings. When you reach this stage, you’ll develop withdrawal symptoms if you stop using your substance.
The same changes occur with any type of substance abuse. Whether you drink alcohol or take opioids, prescription painkillers, cocaine, amphetamines, or any other addictive substance, you’re at risk for developing an addiction due to the way your brain reacts.
How do you treat substance abuse?
Dr. Smalley customizes your treatment based on the substance you’re addicted to and the severity of your addiction. He helps you successfully recover from substance abuse with a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) approach that combines medication with mindfulness counseling.
The medications used during MAT relieve withdrawal symptoms, stop your cravings, and help to rewire your brain to restore balance. With the right medication, you can successfully withdraw without suffering physical and psychological trauma.
Counseling is an essential part of your treatment and recovery because simply getting over your withdrawal doesn’t solve the social, emotional, and behavioral issues that led you to use alcohol or drugs.
With mindfulness counseling, you have a more successful recovery by becoming aware of your thoughts and emotions and learning to change your behaviors.