Substance Use Disorders
Substance Use Disorder (SUD) — previously called substance abuse and/or addiction — occurs when alcohol or drug use contributes to health issues or interferes with work, school or home life. Substance misuse is associated with long-term health consequences, increased risk of suicide and fatal overdoses.
SUDs are generally associated with alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription drugs and are categorized as mild, moderate or severe based on the symptoms. There is often confusion about the causes and treatments, so it’s important to learn the facts.
Psych Hub and former Congressman Patrick J Kennedy walk through the basics of SUD in this video.
TYPES AND TREATMENTS
This article from the American Psychiatric Association digs deeper into different types of SUDs and treatment options.
CAUSES AND SCIENCE
This comprehensive video from the HMA Institute on Mental Health explores the causes and neuroscience behind addiction.
Signs and Symptoms
Here are some common signs of Substance Use Disorders that may require support and treatment. Remember, the earlier you’re diagnosed and start treatment, the sooner you can start feeling better and get back to your life.
Changes in Behavior
Changes in eating or sleeping patterns. Not enjoying activities that were once pleasurable.
Withdrawal from family and friends. Borrowing or stealing money to obtain substances.
Unsafe sexual activity. Driving under the influence. Risky behavior that could also harm others.
Needing more of the substance for the desired effect. Withdrawal symptoms when it’s not used.
Decreased performance, increases in conflict or calling in sick/not showing up more than usual.
Going into debt/missing payments. Getting into trouble with the law or not resolving legal issues.
Thinking about, planning or attempting suicide.
Whether you’re struggling with substance use or you’re worried about a friend or family member, addiction can feel overwhelming and all-consuming. It’s important to remember that substance use disorder is treatable and that you aren’t alone.
Trying to figure out how to deal with emotional struggles while we’re actually experiencing them can be challenging. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a minute to breathe, move, meditate or even make a gratitude list to help manage those feelings. Headspace offers a range of free videos to help.
TALK ABOUT IT
Shame and confusion around addiction and substance use disorder can keep people from opening up about their struggles and reaching out for help. Recovery is challenging, but the alternative is more difficult, damaging and potentially deadly. If you aren’t sure where to start, open up to someone you trust or reach out for help using the resources below.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Supporting someone you love who is experiencing a substance use disorder can be a significant strain on your own mental health. Make sure to take care of yourself and your own well-being, and reach out for support if you need it.
Substance use disorder rarely resolves itself without professional support and treatment. This article from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains different treatment options. You can contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline 24/7 at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or one of the resources below to learn more and explore ways to get help.
These resources can help you find professional support online, on the phone or in person. And if you or a friend are having thoughts of suicide, reach out immediately for a free, confidential chat with a trained counselor anytime.