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What Is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse refers to the harmful use of drugs or alcohol. This can include the misuse of legal substances like alcohol, prescription medications, or illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines.

The key word here is “harmful”. It’s not about the quantity or frequency of usage, but the negative impact that the use of substances has on a person’s life. This includes health problems, difficulties at work, school, or home, and troubles with relationships.

Substance abuse can lead to addiction, a chronic disease characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior. The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control. Alcohol and drug treatment programs can help with everything from substance withdrawal to sustained sobriety after attending addiction counseling. 

Do I Have a Substance Abuse Problem?

Sometimes it can be difficult to recognize a substance abuse problem, especially if it’s within ourselves.

However, several warning signs could indicate a problem:

  • Building up a tolerance — needing to take more of a substance to feel its effects
  • Taking more drugs or alcohol than originally planned, or despite wanting to stop
  • Your substance use interferes with your daily responsibilities
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
  • Giving up activities you once enjoyed in favor of using
  • Continuing to use despite the physical or psychological harm it’s causing

If you recognize these signs in yourself, it’s important to seek help. Substance abuse is a serious health issue, but there’s a wide range of treatments available.

What Is a Substance Abuse Evaluation?

If you are looking to get clarity on whether or not you have a substance abuse problem, you might want to consider a substance abuse evaluation.

A substance abuse evaluation is an assessment that helps determine whether a person is suffering from substance abuse problems.

The primary objective of this evaluation is to understand the extent of the person’s drug or alcohol abuse and what kind of treatment they may need. It can also help identify any co-occurring issues that require dual diagnosis treatment.

The evaluation typically includes several components:

  1. Initial Interview: A certified counselor or mental health professional will conduct a thorough interview, discussing various aspects of the individual’s life, including their history of substance use, medical history, family history, and any legal issues related to their substance use.
  2. Screening: This could involve questionnaires or standardized tests that are designed to identify symptoms of substance abuse disorders. Examples of these tests might include the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), the Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST), or the CAGE questionnaire.
  3. Physical Examination: In some cases, a physical examination may be conducted to assess any physical signs of substance abuse, and in some cases, lab tests (like urine or blood tests) may be ordered to detect the presence of substances in the body.
  4. Psychological Evaluation: This is to determine if any mental health conditions are present along with the substance use disorder, a situation known as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. Common co-occurring disorders include depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and others.

Based on the results of the evaluation, the substance abuse counselor or health professional will typically formulate a treatment plan tailored to your needs. This could involve a range of options including detoxification, outpatient counseling, residential treatment, 12-step programs, marriage and family therapy, or medication-assisted treatment for chemical dependency. Our substance abuse and mental health disorder counselors are ready to help you. 

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How Does Substance Abuse Counseling Help?

Substance abuse and mental health disorders are challenging and sometimes even dangerous to try to overcome alone. Thankfully, you don’t have to. South Coast Behavioral Health offers substance abuse treatment that is science-based and compassionate. Drug and alcohol addiction is not something you can address through your private practice primary care doctor. It often requires mental health and substance abuse professionals who have helped countless others with their health care. 

Our facilities are nationally accredited and staffed by certified substance abuse professionals who have seen all manner of drugs and alcohol and understand each client’s unique needs. We can even help with prescription drug abuse. 

Here are some benefits of getting substance abuse treatment and mental health counseling at South Coast:

Gender-Specific Care

We at South Coast take pride in offering care that is closely targeted to specific problems. To that end, we offer gender-specific detox programs, with medical detox for men in Irvine, CA, and medical detox for women in Huntington Beach, CA.

A Range of Programs

We offer a range of programs at South Coast, including:

Enrolling in one of our programs allows you to benefit from individualized and compassionate care in our beautiful, Southern California treatment facilities for substance abuse and behavioral health. 

Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

Substance abuse is often connected to mental health issues like anxiety or depression. This is known as dual diagnosis. We are proud to offer a mix of therapy and medication to deal with both your addiction and any issues underlying it. 

Developing Coping Strategies

One of the main goals of substance abuse counseling is to help individuals develop coping strategies to manage cravings and avoid relapse. Therapy modalities available at South Coast, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and trauma therapy, help our clients do just that.

Get Started Today

Substance abuse counseling is not a quick fix, but it’s an important step on the journey to recovery. It can provide a safe space to express feelings, identify triggers, and learn new ways of coping. It’s a process that requires commitment, but with the right support and resources, recovery is achievable.

If you or a loved one are thinking of seeking addiction treatment but have questions, call us at 866-881-1184 or contact us here. Our highly qualified staff will be happy to help give you an idea of what to expect from your addiction recovery timeline, help verify your insurance, and assist with any other questions you may have about substance abuse or mental health disorders. A counseling program for alcohol treatment or drug recovery can aid in the recovery process. 

Remember, reaching out for help from addiction counselors and mental health counselors is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, don’t hesitate to seek treatment. You’re not alone, and with professional substance abuse treatment, you can get your life back. Call us today to learn additional information and get started with our team of addiction and mental health treatment specialists.

Pierce Willans
Kelly McIntyre
Medically Reviewed by Kelly McIntyre, MS, LMFT
Read More About addiction Treatment & Recovery
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Contact us today if you are ready to begin your journey to recovery. Our team is available around the clock, so feel free to call us at any time.