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Substance Abuse Disorder

Mental health and substance abuse disorders affect people from all walks of life and all age groups. These illnesses are common, recurrent, and often serious, but they are treatable and many people do recover. Mental disorders involve changes in thinking, mood, and/or behavior. These disorders can affect how we relate to others and make choices. Reaching a level that can be formally diagnosed often depends on a reduction in a person’s ability to function as a result of the disorder. For example:

  • Serious mental illness is defined by someone over 18 having (within the past year) a diagnosable mental, behavior, or emotional disorder that causes serious functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
  • For people under the age of 18, the term “Serious Emotional Disturbance” refers to a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder in the past year, which resulted in functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits the child’s role or functioning in family, school, or community activities.
  • Substance use disorders occur when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically significant impairment, including health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.

What are the symptoms?

The following are the most common behaviors that mean a person is having a problem with drug or alcohol abuse. But each person may have slightly different symptoms. Symptoms may include:

  • Using or drinking larger amounts or over longer periods of time than planned.
  • Continually wanting or unsuccessfully trying to cut down or control use of drugs or alcohol.
  • Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of drugs or alcohol.
  • Craving, or a strong desire to use drugs or alcohol.
  • Ongoing drug or alcohol use that interferes with work, school, or home duties.
  • Using drugs or alcohol even with continued relationship problems caused by use.
  • Giving up or reducing activities because of drug or alcohol use
  • Taking risks, such as sexual risks or driving under the influence.
  • Continually using drugs or alcohol even though it is causing or adding to physical or psychological problems.
  • Developing tolerance or the need to use more drugs or alcohol to get the same effect. Or using the same amount of drugs or alcohol, but without the same effect.
  • Having withdrawal symptoms if not using drugs or alcohol. Or using alcohol or another drug to avoid such symptoms.

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