What Comes After Diagnosis of Substance Use Disorder?
Substance use disorder takes many forms based on severity as well as on the type of drug or drugs used. Likewise, a substance use disorder diagnosis can be made within a range of treatment settings depending on the types of circumstances that drive a person to seek help.
Addictive substances are best know for their ability to drive continued drug use and ultimately, change the way the mind works in drastic ways. Over time, substance abuse practices can quickly snowball out-of-control leaving a person unable to take back control of his or her life from the affects of drugs.
While receiving this type of diagnosis can be difficult, what comes after can mean the difference between a life filled with frustration and a healthy, hopeful future.
Signs of Substance Use Disorder
An ongoing pattern of drug (or alcohol) abuse most distinguishes a substance use disorder from casual, recreational use. According to the University of Arizona, patterns of drug use that qualify as a disorder will play out in one or more of the following behaviors over the course of a 12-month period:
- Failure to carry out obligations related to work, home or school
- Ongoing substance use in spite of relationship conflicts over drug use
- Using drugs in risky situations, such as while driving
- Legal problems resulting from substance use, such as DUIs
- Inability to cope with daily life pressures in the absence of the drug
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Once a substance use disorder diagnosis is made, the next step entails assessing the severity of a person’s condition and drafting a course of treatment. According to American Psychiatric Association Publishing, the overall purpose of the treatment planning process works to help a person stop using substances while developing needed coping skills for living a drug-free lifestyle.
Treatment plan goals and objectives may take the form of:
- Addressing any underlying emotional issues that aggravate substance use behaviors
- Reducing frequency of substance use
- Reducing usage amounts
- Developing stress management strategies
- Developing healthy interpersonal and/or communication skills
- Determining the level of treatment that best addresses a person’s treatment needs
Treatment options for substance use disorder cover a range of different intensity levels, settings and services. According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, treatment options in terms of program types and services offered include the following:
- Detoxification programs
- Individual and group therapies
- Inpatient programs
- Residential programs
- Medication therapies
- Case management services
- Support group therapies
- Outpatient programs
For someone struggling with severe drug abuse problems, the more intensive level options, such as inpatient and residential-based programs are best equipped to meet his or her treatment needs, whereas milder forms of substance use typically require a less intensive treatment approach.
A substance use disorder can quickly go from mild to severe when left untreated as addictive substances naturally drive increasing drug (or alcohol) use over time. For these reasons, it’s imperative to follow through on treatment recommendations in order to prevent a bad situation from spinning out of control.
If you suspect you or someone you know may be showing signs of substance use disorder, and have more questions, or need help finding treatment that meets your needs, please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at to speak with one of our addictions specialists.