Austin Substance Use & Addiction Counseling

Austin Family Counseling Has Professionals Equipped to Help With Substance Use

Substance use disorder (known also as addiction, abuse, and dependence) occurs when a person’s use of alcohol or drugs leads to health issues or problems at work, school, or home.

Does “Use” Mean Disorder?

No, not always. It is important to remember that just the mere use of alcohol or drugs does not always mean a person is dealing with substance use disorder, but it may.  Some who drink alcohol or use drugs may only do so occasionally and in relatively small doses, such as social situations, with little harm to themselves or others.  But, it can be a slippery slope so use at any level comes with certain risk. Some individuals, however, are at elevated risk. Those include, in particular, individuals with other mental health conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Further, people with family history of substance use disorder are in a high risk group of developing it too. It is important to recognize, as with all mental health challenges, substance use disorder transcends across all ways in which we are often defined by: socioeconomic statuses, family history, occupation, race and ethnicity, marital status, sexual orientation, and education.

Symptoms of Substance Use Disorder

  • Withdrawal from friends and family.
  • Sudden changes in behavior.
  • Engaging in risky behaviors.
  • Developing a high tolerance (and thus a need for increased used) and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Feeling like drugs are necessary in life to function.

Substances Often Used

  • Alcohol
  • Antianxiety and sedative drugs (like Xanax, Clonazepam, Trazodone)
  • Cannabis / THC (such as marijuana and synthetic cannabinoids)
  • Hallucinogens (including LSD and phencyclidine)
  • Inhalants (like paint, paint thinner, and glues)
  • Opioids (such as fentanyl, morphine, and oxycodone)
  • Stimulants (including amphetamines and cocaine)

Why Do People Use?

There are a myriad of reasons people begin using alcohol and drugs. For some, it’s simply social. For others, they are seeking an escape from pain and find substances temporarily provide an effect of relief. When they self-medicate though, it is not long lasting and it is often in lieu of seeking proper mental health care services such as counseling and psychiatric care.

How Do Substances Affect Our Brain?

Substances directly activate the brain’s reward system and produce feelings of pleasure.  However, such pleasure feelings are temporary and quickly become sought after resulting in an intense craving to find that quick pleasure again through reuse.  Such reuse can increase tolerance, and a vicious cycle can quickly ensue from that slippery slope.

We Can Help

Help is available and although recovery is challenging, it is far from impossible. Millions and millions of people have found freedom and a path to recovery. If you or someone you love are experiencing challenges around substance use, connecting to an experienced professional familiar with substance use disorder is a really good next step. The earlier you seek help, the quicker you can experience long lasting results.

Sources: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration; National Alliance on Mental Illness; Mayo Clinic; Johns Hopkins Medicine.

 Austin Therapists Specializing In Substance Use & Addiction Counseling