What is Substance Abuse?

What is Substance Abuse?

Many cringe when hearing the words substance abuse because of the countless lives that have been affected by this dark truth. The World Health Organization reported that at least 15.3 million persons in the world have drug use disorders. Alcohol and prescription drugs, such as opioids and benzodiazepines, are a just few examples of popular substances that individuals abuse.

The Facts

Substance abuse is defined as the harmful use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol or illicit drugs. Increased tolerance from excessive drug use as well as the pain and suffering of physical withdrawal is common. Below are some shocking statistics linked to substance abuse.

  • An estimated 69,000 people die from opioid overdose each year, worldwide.
  • There are an estimated 15 million people who suffer from opioid dependence (i.e., an addiction to opioids). The majority of people dependent on opioids use illicitly cultivated and manufactured heroin, but an increasing proportion use prescription opioids.
  • There are effective treatments for opioid dependence yet only 10% of people who need such treatment are receiving it.
  • The harmful use of alcohol results in 3.3 million deaths each year.
  • In the United States, 52 million people over the age of 12 have used prescription drugs non-medically in their lifetime.

Dangers of Substance Abuse

Behavioral changes and shifts in mental attitude are often side effects, and obtaining the drug of choice becomes the ultimate goal above all else. Hobbies, priorities and obligations fade into the background as the need to consume becomes unbearable. Substance abuse can be, and often times is, fatal, so early intervention helps decrease the chances of death or permanent damage, aside from broken relationships, debt and many other long-lasting effects.

Dual Diagnosis

People with addiction issues often have other mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, stress, bipolar disorder, etc. This is called a co-occurring disorder (also known as dual diagnosis) where substance abuse and mental health issues are present together.

Advantage Mental Health’s Approach to Addiction Treatment

Our medical providers use medication and individual therapy sessions to help our patients overcome addiction. We believe the combination of evidence-based medical treatment, counseling, patient education, hard work and commitment to sobriety offers the best possible opportunity for sustainable recovery from addiction.


Addiction is a complex condition that involves more than just physical symptoms—it can also affect the way you feel and how you act. To be as effective as possible, the treatment plan should include counseling and behavioral therapy. Counseling is essential to help patients change negative thinking and behaviors attributed to their addiction. With professional counseling, patients learn skills to cope with triggers, stressors, relationships, and life changes—something that no medication alone can provide.

Overcoming Substance Abuse

Organizations like Advantage Mental Health Center can bring answers and hope to individuals and families struggling with substance abuse. AMHC provides psychiatric evaluations (using dual diagnosis treatment plans), medication management, consistent counseling accompanied by individualized treatment plans for substance abuse, dependency and mental illness. We are here to support the patient and help him/her create a life with a better future.

The tools and resources are available to you – set your appointment to come in today and make a fresh start.