An upset man keeps his head low as he's comforted by two women in group therapy. Substance use disorders (SUDs) are a growing public health concern, affecting millions of people worldwide. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 20.3 million adults in the United States had a substance use disorder in 2018.

But what exactly is a substance use disorder, and how is it diagnosed and treated? In this article, we’ll explore the definition of a substance use disorder, its symptoms, and the different treatment options available.

Signs of SUDs

Recognizing the signs of substance abuse and substance use disorder (SUD) can be crucial in identifying when someone may be struggling with this condition. Some common signs of SUDs include:

  • Loss of control over substance use
  • Continued use despite negative consequences
  • Cravings or strong urges to use the substance
  • Tolerance and withdrawal
  • Neglecting responsibilities and activities
  • Changes in behavior and mood
  • Physical symptoms such as weight loss, changes in appetite, and sleep disturbances
  • Legal problems related to substance use
  • Financial difficulties due to substance use

If you notice these signs in yourself or someone else, it may indicate the presence of a substance use disorder. Seeking help from a mental health professional is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Substance Use Disorder vs. Substance Abuse

In previous times, individuals struggling with issues related to drugs or alcohol were often categorized as either engaging in substance abuse or being dependent on substances. It was widely accepted that these individuals were dealing with complex issues related to their substance use. 

However, with the introduction of substance use disorder in the DSM-5, the terminology surrounding these disorders shifted to a more encompassing and nuanced diagnosis known as substance use disorder. This alteration was implemented in order to more accurately capture the varying degrees of severity and the persistent nature of the disorder, acknowledging that individuals may experience a range of symptoms and behaviors related to their substance use over time.

Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Substance use disorders, which encompass a range of addictive behaviors involving the misuse of drugs or alcohol, are indeed treatable conditions that hold the promise of recovery for those struggling with them. The path to recovery, however, is not a one-size-fits-all solution, as each individual’s unique circumstances and the severity of their disorder must be taken into consideration when determining the most effective treatment approach. It is important to recognize that what works for one person may not necessarily work for another, which is why a personalized and comprehensive treatment plan that addresses the individual’s specific needs and challenges is crucial.

A variety of treatment options are available to those seeking help for substance use disorders, including but not limited to therapy, medication-assisted treatment, support groups, and residential or outpatient programs. By collaborating with healthcare professionals and mental health experts, individuals can increase their chances of successful recovery and regain control over their lives.

Tools Used in Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

Various tools and approaches are utilized in the treatment of substance use disorders by healthcare professionals. These tools may be used separately, but are more often used in tandem to provide a holistic approach to treatment. What tools or treatment that you receive may vary based on what program you seek out.


Detoxification, or detox, is the process of removing the substance from the body and managing withdrawal symptoms. It is often the first step in treating a substance use disorder and is typically done under medical supervision to ensure the safety and comfort of the individual. Some programs, like Arbour’s Adult Substance Abuse Program, offer medically supervised detoxification as part of their inpatient programs in order to provide a safe environment for those who might have more serious dependencies.

Inpatient Rehabilitation

Inpatient rehabilitation involves staying at a treatment facility for a period of time, typically 30-90 days. This type of treatment provides a structured environment and intensive therapy to help individuals overcome their substance use disorder.

Outpatient Rehabilitation

Outpatient rehabilitation involves attending therapy sessions and treatment programs while living at home. This type of treatment is more flexible and allows individuals to continue with their daily responsibilities while receiving treatment.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) involves the use of medications, such as methadone or buprenorphine, to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. This type of treatment is often used in combination with therapy and counseling.

Support Groups

Support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, provide a supportive community for individuals in recovery. These groups often follow a 12-step program and provide a safe space for individuals to share their experiences and receive support from others who have gone through similar struggles.

Finding the Right Treatment For Your SUD

Substance abuse and substance use disorders can still be highly stigmatized in today’s society. Finding the right treatment program can feel daunting, or complex. This is why Arbour Hospital prides itself on approachability for their programs, offering online assessments for eligibility. You can also call at 1-833-310-2687 and speak to a licensed medical professional at Arbour 24/7 if you or a loved one are in need of assistance. You don’t have to suffer with SUDs alone with Arbour Hospital Behavioral Health Center in Jamaica Plains, MA.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or seek your nearest emergency room. If you are experiencing an acute mental health crisis, please call 988 or seek your nearest emergency room.

About Arbour Hospital

Arbour Hospital is a behavioral health center that offers services to adults and adolescents alike as a way to achieve long-term wellness and sobriety. We treat primary psychiatric and substance abuse disorders. We also constantly strive to meet the needs of our communities with treatment that address individualized behavioral health needs.

Located in Jamaica Plain, MA, we’re a fully licensed and accredited center that provides exceptional care. Our team of professionals provide patients and their families with high-quality care and service excellence across a continuum of specialized behavioral health services. Some of our services include our adult psychiatric, adult substance abuse and adolescent partial hospitalization program.

Our facility has a patient-focused approach to behavioral healthcare. To schedule a no-cost assessment or for more information, please call 1-833-322-2687.