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A substance use disorder (SUD) is a mental disorder that affects a person's brain and behavior, leading to a person's inability to control their use of substances such as legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, or medications.


About 20% of Americans who have depression or an anxiety disorder also have a substance use disorder

Almost 21 million Americans have at least 1 addiction, yet only 10% of them receive treatment

More than 90% of people who have an addiction started to drink alcohol or use drugs before they were 18 years old.


Drug overdose deaths have more than tripled since 1990.


About 88,000 people die as a result of alcohol every year in the United States.

Approximately 2.1 million Americans have an Opioid use disorder.

About 30% of people who regularly use Marijuana have a Marijuana use disorder


Over 16 million Americans have a smoking-related illness

Understanding Substance Use Disorders

Symptoms or Signs of a Substance Use Disorder


  • sudden weight loss or gain

  • pupils that are smaller or larger than usual

  • bloodshot eyes

  • changes in appetite and sleeping patterns

  • slurred speech

  • impaired coordination or tremors

  • deterioration of physical appearance or changes in grooming practices

  • runny nose

  • unusual odors on breath, body, or clothes


  • feeling paranoid, anxious, or fearful

  • unexplained change in personality

  • feeling “spaced out”

  • lack of motivation

  • feeling excessively tired

  • periods of excessive energy, mental instability, or restlessness

  • sudden changes in mood

  • increased agitation or anger


  • beginning to act in a secretive 

  • experiencing problems in relationships due to the condition

  • using more than originally intended 

  • neglecting family and friendships, as well as duties at home, school, or work

  • getting into legal trouble

  • suddenly changing hobbies, friends, or activities

  • experiencing sudden unexplained financial problems

  • frequently trying to avoid or relieve withdrawal symptoms

  • experiencing increased tolerance for the substance

  • noticing that life revolves around substance use and recovering from use, e.g., always thinking about using or consumed with how to get more

  • no longer engaging in previously enjoyed activities due to substance use

  • continuing to use despite negative health consequences

Treatment Options

Care for substance use disorders (SUD) include:

  • outpatient treatment

  • intensive outpatient treatment

  • residential treatment

  • inpatient hospitalization

Different SUD treatment programs are usually based on three basic models:

Psychological model.

This may include behavioral or talk therapy and looks at emotional dysfunction or potentially harmful motivations as the main cause of SUD.

Medical model.

This requires medication to relieve symptoms and treatment by a physician. It emphasizes the physiological, biological, or genetic causes of SUD.

Sociocultural model.

This aims to alter the physical and social environment of a person with SUD to address possible deficiencies in that environment. It may include self-help or spiritual activities. Oftentimes, people who have personal experience with addiction and are in recovery themselves facilitate treatment.

When you have SUD, it’s important to match your needs to the right treatment. In general, the right choice will depend on several factors, including:

  • whether the SUD has been diagnosed as mild, moderate, or severe

  • how motivated the person is

  • what their sociocultural environment is like

  • their cognitive functioning and level of impulse control

  • whether the person has any other mental health conditions

For most people, the main goal of treatment is maintaining abstinence, as it is significantly linked to a positive long-term prognosis. But being completely substance-free is only the beginning.

Many people receiving treatment for SUD may have complex problems in different areas, including:

  • physical and mental health issues

  • relationship problems

  • poor social and work skills

  • legal or financial difficulties

This means the ideal treatment needs to:

  • address mental and physical well-being

  • help resolve relationship issues

  • help improve educational and vocational skills

Outpatient behavioral treatment involves a variety of programs, including individual or group substance use counseling or both. This may include:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

  • family therapy

  • motivational interviewing

  • contingency management (incentives)

Psychosocial treatments target aspects of a person’s social and cultural environment, as well as any psychological and behavioral patterns that may cause difficulties in their life.

If you are experiencing signs & symptoms of substance use disorder,

don't wait another minute.

Reach out to us to get the care that you need.

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