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Substance Abuse

Addiction is like a disease. It attacks your brain and your behavior- it impairs your ability to make healthy choices. You have control over your choice to start using drugs, but once you start, their pleasurable effect makes you want to keep using them. When you become addicted to alcohol or other drugs, your brain changes in certain ways so that a powerful urge to use drugs controls your behavior.

Indicators of a substance use problem include: 

Several failed attempts to control/limit use

Excessive time spent using, finding, or recovering from the substance

Needing more of the substance to get the same desired effect

Development of Tolerance and Withdrawal Symptoms


Negative consequences as a result of using, including feeling guilt and shame.

Common Negative Effects of substance abuse include:

Legal issues

Financial Debt


Anxiety/Panic Attacks/Depression

Work/School problems

Relationship Problems

Commonly Abused Substances:


Benzos (i.e Xanax)

Opiates (i.e OxyContin)




Stimulants (i.e adderall)


Stages of Change:

1) Pre-contemplation: Individuals are not even thinking about changing their addictive behavior. Individuals may not see it as a problem, or they think that others who point out the problem are exaggerating.

2) Contemplation: Individuals in this stage of change are willing to consider the possibility that they have a problem, and the possibility offers hope for change. However, people who are contemplating change are on the fence. They are usually interested in learning more about addiction.

3) Action: Individuals in this stage of change put their plan into action. This stage involves making some form of commitment to stop using. Individuals in this stage may enter counseling or some form of outpatient treatment, start to attend AA meetings or tell their family members and friends about their decision.

4) Maintenance: In this stage, a sober life is becoming firmly established, and the threat of a return to old patterns becomes less intense and less frequent. 

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