Substance Use Disorder-Depressants

What You Can Do If You Need Help

What The Disorder Is

A Substance abuse disorder generally has 4 different categories of defining an individuals use of substances: intoxication, withdrawal, abuse, and dependence.


Intoxication occurs after a substance is ingested, and the more a person ingests, the more intoxicated they become. Symptoms of intoxication depend on what type of substance is taken, the user's tolerance, the context, and how much of it is taken and when (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014).


Substance withdrawal occurs when abusers have been using substances heavily for prolonged periods of time and the abuser stops his or her use or greatly reduces it. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may begin from 4 to 12 hours after you cut down or stop drinking, or as long as several days after the last drink, and can last a few days. They can range from mild to life-threatening (WebMD, 2014).

Symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Intense worry
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Hearing things that are not there
  • Trembling
  • Tense or edgy
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Substance abuse results in significant harmful consequences. When an individual can no longer fulfill responsibilities such as school, work, or responsibilities within the home substance abuse has occurred. Driving while under the influence, legal problems, and continuing to use substances would be a direct diagnosis for substance abuse (Nolan-Hoeksema, 2014).
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Substance dependence is commonly referred to as addiction. Over time substance abusers develop what is called a tolerance. For example what an alcoholic drinks for the first time 2 or 3 beers might have gotten him or her intoxicated, but over time the amount of drinks will increase because he or she's tolerance has increased (Psych Central Staff, 2014).

Causes of the Disorder

Several Factors can cause Substance Abuse

  • Environment. Environmental factors, including your family's beliefs and attitudes and exposure to a peer group that encourages drug use, seem to play a role in initial drug use (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2014).
  • Genetics. Once you've started using a drug, the development into addiction may be influenced by inherited (genetic) traits, which may delay or speed up the disease progression (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2014).

Treatment Options

  • Individual, group or family therapy sessions.
  • AA or NA meetings
  • Relapse Prevention
  • Outpatient, residential and inpatient programs
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Common Myths or Misperceptions

  • Substance abusers fit a stereotype-anyone can be a substance abuser.
  • Drug addiction is a more serious problem than alcohol addiction-all forms of addiction are harmful.
  • Substance abusers are bad people-abusers come from all walks of life and backgrounds.
  • Once an addict always an addict-people can turn their lives around.
  • Relapse is a normal part of recovery-there is no need to relapse in recovery it is not a necessity.
  • Recovery is boring-recovery gives an abuser a chance for happiness.
  • There is only one way to escape addiction-people are unique and have their own needs.
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Looking for a Therapist

  • Possession of a sophisticated set of interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to help you feel you can trust the therapist.
  • Willingness to establish an alliance with you.
  • Commitment to developing a consistent and acceptable treatment plan.
  • Communication of confidence about the course of therapy.
  • Flexibility in adapting treatment to the particular client's characteristics.
  • Inspiration of hope and optimism about your chances of improvement.
  • Possession of self-insight.
  • Sensitivity toward your cultural background (Krauss, 2011).


Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014). Drug Addiction. Retrieved December 14, 2014 from

Psych Central Staff. (2014). Alcohol & Substance Dependence Symptoms. Retrieved December 14, 2014 from

WebMD. (2014). Alcohol or Drug Withdrawal. Retrieved December 14, 2014 from

Krauss, S. (2011). 13 Qualities to Look for in an Effective Psychotherapist. Retrieved December 14, 2014 from

Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2014). Abnormal psychology (Sixth ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.