Substance Use Disorders

What is substance use and addiction?

Substance use and addiction is a condition that affects many individuals and families. It involves the misuse of alcohol, medication and other illicit substances. Many times these are used to escape from life’s problems, but can actually make these problems worse.


There are many different symptoms of substance use and addiction. You or someone you know may have some or all of the following, and experience them to different degrees.
  • Frequently using alcohol, medication or illicit substances
  • Cravings or strong desire to use which makes it difficult to think about anything else
  • Taking larger amounts or over a longer period of time than was intended
  • Built up tolerance; increased quantities or strength is needed to achieve the previous effects
  • Physical dependence; withdrawal symptoms when stopping
  • Constant desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control the substance use
  • Continued need to use despite physical, relationship, psychological, impaired functioning, social or work problems it causes
  • Changes in behavior and relationships


There are many ways to treat substance use. Use the information below as a guide to help you understand your treatment options. With any treatment, the sooner you start, the sooner you can start to feel better. Always speak with your doctor to determine the best treatment for you.

Psychological Counseling
Counseling, also known as talk therapy, can be an effective way to treat substance abuse and addiction. It involves regular visits with a behavioral health professional who will help you learn ways to cope with stress, manage your symptoms and take the proper steps to live substance-free. It is important to feel comfortable and safe with your behavioral health professional, and you may need to talk with a few to find one who feels right.

Medication can be an effective tool in helping to treat substance use. It works by helping to balance chemicals in the brain, which can help reduce cravings and help you feel more like yourself again.

Tips about medications
  • Keep taking your medication as prescribed. Most side effects are minor and temporary. Discuss any side effects with your doctor so you can decide together if the treatment is right for you.
  • Some medications may take time to work. You may not feel better immediately, so it is important to give them time.1
  • Medications are most effective when taken at the same time each day.2 Try setting an alarm, using a pill box or taking your medication with regular activities to help make it a part of your daily routine.

Find out if you may have a substance use disorder

This screening can help determine if you are experiencing symptoms of a substance use disorder. We encourage you to share your results with your health care provider.

Take this screening >

Ready for help?

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Hotline. It is free, confidential and available twenty four hours a day/seven days a week. Call 1-800-662-4357 for immediate help. If you use a TTY/TDD, please call 1-800-487-4889 or visit SAMHSA for more information.

1 Medication Assisted Treatment for Substance Use Disorders. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014)
2 General Medication Guidelines. The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. (2014)

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