Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

Most of our therapists have extensive experience working in substance abuse. We define substance abuse as the abuse of drugs and/or alcohol. This includes both legal (prescription drugs) and illegal drugs.

There is quite a debate as to what constitutes substance abuse, so here are the definitions of substance dependence and substance abuse paraphrased from the (DSMIV) Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders:

Substance dependence is defined as when a person continues to use the substance despite significant substance related problems and a minimum of (3) of the following signs are present at any time during the same year.

    1. A tolerance has developed (not getting the same high from the dosage you once used).
    2. Withdrawal occurs
    3. The substance is frequently taken in larger amounts over longer periods of time than intended.
    4. There is a persistent desire to cut down or quit.
    5. A great deal of time is spent in activities related to obtaining, using, or recovering from the substance.
    6. Important recreational, social, or occupational activities are reduced or stopped because of substance use.
    7. There is continued use despite persistent or recurrent psychological or physical problems caused by the use.
    8. In addition to the above there is also craving for the drug.

Substance Abuse is defined as a pattern of substance use manifested by recurrent and significant consequences related to drug/alcohol repeated use. Also, the criteria for substance dependence must not be met (Substance dependence is more severe).

Any (1) of the following criteria must occur in the same year.

    1. Recurrent substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
    2. Recurrent use despite physically hazardous situations.
    3. Recurrent substance related legal problems.
    4. Repeated substance use despite persistent social or interpersonal problems.

In the laymen’s world the topic of whether someone is an alcoholic or a drug addict is commonly discussed. Such questions as the following are often asked:

  1. Do you need a drink when you wake up?
  2. Do you drink alone or do drugs alone?
  3. Do you need a drink or do drugs to feel normal?
  4. Can you quit using any time you want?
  5. Is one, two, or three drinks per day acceptable?

The questions go on and on and everyone has an opinion. There is a diagnostic criteria that determines if you are abusing substances or dependent on them. However, there is no diagnosis for an alcoholic or drug addict (just speculation by experts and non-experts).

The bottom line is, “Are drugs and or alcohol a problem for you?”

That is the question that we must answer. If the answer is yes, then we will assist you on your journey to recovery.

We acknowledge the AA model of treatment, which advocates for total abstinence. While that viewpoint certainly holds true for many, others feel that they can use in moderation. We are not here to judge or criticize you. Instead, we are here to help you arrive at what is best for you in your own unique situation.

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