In general, substance use disorder is characterized by the inability to use a substance in moderation and/or the intentional use of a substance to change your thoughts, feelings and/or behaviors. This leads to impairment in work, academic, personal and/or social endeavors (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014).


  • Substance: any natural or synthesized product that has psychoactive effects-changed perceptions, thoughts, emotions and behaviors (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014).

  • Depressants: alcohol, benzodiazepines and barbiturates, hypnotics, inhalants and most sleeping medications (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014 & Schuckit, 2006).
*benzodiazepines: Xanax, Valium, Halcion, Librium, Klonopin

*barbiturates: Seconal

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Causes/Sources of Substance Use Disorder: Depressants

  • MENTAL ILLNESS: (Schuckit, 2006), ((Gau, Yang, Yang, Yiang, Chang, 2006)

  • Major Anxiety Disorders
  • Social phobias
  • Panic disorder
  • Depression
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Conduct Disorder

  • BIOLOGICAL/SOCIAL INFLUENCES: (Gau, Yang, Yang, Yiang, Chang, 2006)

  • Being of the male gender (although females are still at risk)
  • Family history of misuse
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Inappropriate peer influence
  • Academic underachievement

Treatment Options

There are many different treatment options available for Substance Use Disorder, if you are using depressants. These treatments include biological treatments which consist of drug therapy (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014). Antagonist drugs can be used to block or change the effects of the addictive drug which in turn reduces the desire for the drug or methadone which will help accomplish gradual withdrawal (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014)

Psychosocial treatments are also used which includes behavioral treatments, cognitive treatments and motivational interviewing (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014). Psychosocial treatments prevent relapse while identifying triggers and promotes commitment to changing substance use (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014).

Depending on your specific situation, treatment may include outpatient facilities, inpatient treatment or hospitalization, or treatment in a therapeutic community which would be highly controlled and drug-free (Parekh, 2015).

You can use this website to help locate treatment facilities anywhere in the United States:

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What To Look For in a Psychologist/Therapist

When obtaining treatment, you want to find a highly trained professional with expertise in the area of substance use/abuse. Some things to look for when choosing the best professional for you would be the length of their education and experience. They should have a doctoral degree as well as a minimum of seven years in graduate education training and research (How to Choose a Psychologist, 2016). Following this criteria, they should have also obtained a minimum of one year of a clinical internship (How to Choose a Psychologist, 2016). They must also be licensed by the state of jurisdiction in which they practice (How to Choose a Psychologist, 2016). Most websites will provide this information about a therapist or psychologist but it is also acceptable to call and ask one's credentials.

Another important thing to keep in mind after finding a professional is that if you do not connect with them, it is acceptable to try another therapist or psychologist. In order to receive help, feeling comfortable with the professional helping/guiding you is very important.

You can find a professional by using this website:

Common Myths and Misperceptions

There are many myths about substance use/abuse. Some of them include: (Carise, 2010)

  • if you have a high school tolerance then you don't have a problem
  • you need to be religious in order to get sober
  • if you have a stable job and family life, then you are not addicted
  • if someone in recovery uses drugs or alcohol again, they'll be right back where they were when they first quit
  • addicts are bad people


Carise, D. (2010, November 10). Ten Popular Myths About Drugs, Addiction, and Recovery. Retrieved from

Gau, S. S., Chong, M., Yang, P., Yang, C., Yiang, K., & Chang, A. T. (2006). Psychiatric and Psychosocial Predictors of Substance Use Disorders Among Adolescents. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 190(1), 42-48. Retrieved from

How to Choose a Psychologist. (2016). Retrieved from

Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2014). Looking at Abnormality. In Abnormal Psychology (6th ed.). New York, New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

Parekh, R. (2015, July). What Is Addiction? Retrieved from

Schuckit, M. (2006). Drug and Alcohol Abuse: Clinical Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment (6th ed.). New York, NY: Springer Science Business Media. Retrieved from use disorder depressants&ots=APQD0tKgwM&sig=P23RGdzcy3mtAADtelGknH261bk#v=onepage&q=substance use disorder depressants&f=false