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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

  • May 24, 2018
Quitting Smoking: Tips from a Psychiatrist

Tobacco kills some 480,000 people each year in the U.S., more people than alcohol and all other drugs combined. Almost 10 percent of the deaths are related to secondhand smoke. Smita Das, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., answers common questions about quitting.

  • May 18, 2018
"13 Reasons Why" Season 2: Opportunity for an Important Conversation about Mental Health and Suicide

Last year the debut of the critically acclaimed Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, was received with a lot of attention along with concern from mental health professionals. Strong topics of sexual assault, PTSD, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and school bullying drive the storyline in the Netflix series. Season two premieres Friday, May 18 and it deals with the aftermath of the first season.

  • Apr 06, 2018
Binge Drinking: Not Just a Problem on Campus

April is Alcohol Awareness Month and one area of public health concern is binge drinking. College parties may come to mind when we think of binge drinking, but a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights the significant problem of binge drinking among adults. And estimated 17 percent of U.S. adults (more than 37 million) reported binge drinking, which is drinking four or more drinks for women, five or more for men, on one occasion. While binge drinking was more common among younger adults (18 – 34), more than three-quarters of all binge drinks are consumed by adults over 25 years. Binge drinking accounts for more than half of the 88,000 U.S. deaths from excessive drinking ear year.

Upcoming Events
May
2018
01
Find local events - Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
  • Tue,  May  01 - Thur,  May  31
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM
May
2018
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Find campus based events and support
  • Tue,  May  01 - Thur,  May  31
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM
Jun
2018
14
Mental Health America Annual Conference
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Thur,  Jun  14 - Sat,  Jun  16
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM
Jun
2018
27
NAMI National Convention
  • New Orleans
  • Wed,  Jun  27 - Sat,  Jun  30
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM

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

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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.

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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.

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MAY 10, 2018

State Seeks Different Avenues To Improve Opioid Addiction Treatment

Wisconsin Public Radio News

Wisconsin is looking at what other states have done to improve access to treatment through what’s called a "hub and spoke" system which utilizes primary care providers in addiction treatment.

MAY 10 2018

ABC's Elizabeth Vargas Speaks About Addiciton, Mental Health in New Albany

ABC6OnYourSide.com

Elizabeth Vargas, known from ABC'S 20/20 and ABC News, discusses addiction and mental health. In her book, Between Breaths, she discusses how she has been dealing with anxiety since she was a child. Then, when she got older, she used alcohol to self-medicate the lifelong anxiety. Now, she wants to break the stigma of mental health and addiction, by speaking about her past.

MAY 9 2018

What can ads do for addiction?

KMVT

Congress may once again turn to television in the fight against addiction. Politicians on the left and the right are calling for an anti-addiction ad campaign aimed at the opioid epidemic. The airwaves of history are littered with previous anti-drug efforts - some of which had the opposite of the intended effect.