All Topics

Help With Addiction and Substance Use Disorders

Curated and updated for the community by APA

Addiction is a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence. People with addiction (severe substance use disorder) have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s), such as alcohol or drugs, to the point that it takes over their life.

See definition, symptoms, & treatment

  • Mar 27, 2019
Problem Gambling and Online Access

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month, and most Americans support increased public awareness and investment in treatment, according to a new survey commissioned by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG).

  • Feb 14, 2019
What Happens When You Quit, or at Least Really Cut Back, Your Social Media Use?

For many people, checking social media regularly and spending a lot of time on it is a part of everyday life. But what is the impact on your well-being if you just quit for a while, or at least significantly cut back? You’ll probably be at least a little bit better off, according to a couple of recent studies. Substantial research over the past few years has linked social media use with reduced well-being, sleep problems and increased loneliness, depression and mental distress.

  • Feb 01, 2019
Eating Disorders, Weight-Shaming and “Clean” Eating

Eating disorders affect all kinds of people: women, men, young and old and from all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Many factors likely contribute to developing eating disorders, including a range of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors. Having a close relative with an eating disorder or a history of dieting are risk factors. High levels of body image dissatisfaction and setting unrealistically high expectations for oneself (perfectionism) also increase the risk

Upcoming Events
Feb
2019
01
Find a local AA meeting
  • Fri,  Feb  01 - Thur,  Feb  28

Locate a local AA meeting

Feb
2019
01
Find local events - Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
  • Fri,  Feb  01 - Thur,  Feb  28
Feb
2019
01
Find campus based events and support
  • Active Minds
  • Fri,  Feb  01 - Thur,  Feb  28

Ongoing Events - Active Minds

Jun
2019
19
NAMI National Convention
  • New Orleans
  • Wed,  Jun  19 - Sat,  Jun  22
Sep
2019
01
National Recovery Month
  • Sun,  Sep  01 - Mon,  Sep  30

What can you do to prevent relapse?

Preventing relapse to substance use is mainly a matter of becoming aware of the triggers to relapse and either finding ways to avoid or cope with them. Triggers can be external, for example being in places where substances are being used. Stress of any kind (job stress, financial stress, arguments with important people) can also be an external trigger. Triggers can also be internal such as craving, depressed mood, anxiety, hunger or fatigue. The key is to anticipate triggers ahead of time so they don’t come as a surprise and use a plan or coping strategy to deal with the triggers. Usually professional help is needed to gain awareness of and plans to deal with triggers to relapse. There are also very good medications for alcohol, opioid and tobacco use disorders that effectively reduce craving and can help prevent relapse. More

I live with pain and I want help, but I’m worried about becoming addicted to pain medication. What can I do?

Opioid type medications that have potential to lead to addiction are only one way, and probably not the best way, to help manage chronic pain. So the best plan is to try all the alternatives first.

Non-medication interventions such as graded exercise programs, physical therapy, mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai-chi and a form of psychotherapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) all take some effort but often work very well. Acupuncture may benefit some people living with pain. Many medications that do not have addiction potential can also be helpful for chronic pain. These include anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen; antidepressants like nortriptyline or duoloxetine; or medications often used for seizures like gabapentin or pregabalin.

If you or someone you know does require opioid pain medications to help manage chronic pain, it is reassuring to know that the majority of people who take these medications for chronic pain do not become addicted to them, although anyone who takes these type of medications for more than a few weeks is likely to have some tolerance (less effect of the medication over time) and withdrawal symptoms if the medications are stopped abruptly. More

What resources are available for family members of an individual with addiction?

Al-Anon and Alateen are widely available and free resources for family members. These organizations offer mutual help groups. Members do not give direction or advice to other members. Instead, they share their personal experiences and stories, and invite other members to “take what they like and leave the rest” — that is, to determine for themselves what lesson they could apply to their own lives. The best place to learn how Al-Anon and Alateen work is at a meeting in your local community. Most professional treatment programs also offer family groups to help families support their loved ones struggling with addiction. More

saxon-expert.jpg

About the Expert:

Andrew Saxon, M.D.
Professor and Director, Addiction Psychiatry Residency Program
University of Washington
Director, Center of Excellence in Substance Abuse Treatment and Education (CESATE)
VA Puget Sound Health Care System
Seattle, Wash.

Opioid Use Disorder

Learn about Opioid Use Disorder, including symptoms, risk factors and treatment options.

Learn More

45-yo-Male.jpg

Keith's Story

Keith, a 45-year-old plumber, was referred for a psychiatric evaluation after his family met with him to express their concern about his heavy drinking. Since making the appointment three days earlier, Keith denied having a drink.

Read More

APA Resources
Find a Psychiatrist

Find a psychiatrist in your area today

Search Now

Editor's Choice

APR 8, 2019

Recovery from opioid addiction: What research says about role of steady employment

Burlington Free Press

Are workplace recovery programs successful in helping people to quit abusing drugs and avoid relapsing? A growing field of research suggests the answer is yes, though their success may have more to do with incentives than the nature of work itself. Walton described the two dominant approaches: one views employment as benchmark of successful recovery. The other area of research focuses on whether being employed is a therapeutic intervention in and of itself.

MAR 29, 2019

8 signs Your Co-workers are Struggling with Addiction

USA Today

With roughly 23.5 million Americans addicted to drugs or alcohol, and another 22 million in recovery, substance abuse happens often happens on the job.  "It rarely goes unnoticed,'' says Lawrence Weinstein, chief medical officer for American Addiction Centers. ''People just don't know what to do.'' Here are a few of the signs a co-worker might be struggling with alcohol or drug addiction:  falling asleep at work, or constantly appearing to be very tired; suddenly making frequent mistakes; frequent trips to the bathroom or break room; and extreme mood swings.

MAR 31 2019

The 'Burden of Disease' in those who recover from addiction

Medical News Today

Recent research shows that more than one-third of people who are recovering from addiction continue to experience chronic physical disease. Excessive use of alcohol and drugs can lead to mental and physical health issues, some of which include anxiety, depression, diabetes, liver disease, and heart disease.