What is a Substance Use Disorder (SUD)?

What is a Substance Use Disorder (SUD)?

Calendar-IconOctober 17, 2022  |  Substance Use
image about substance use disorder

Nearly every American alive today has been affected by a Substance Use Disorder (SUD), but many of them might not know it.  


In the US today, 4 million people have SUDs. However, many of those people do not feel as if there is anything wrong because substance use has become a daily part of life, and do not see the mental impact on themselves or their loved ones.  


SUDs are often complex conditions that do not have one single cause. But they are treatable, and many people with SUD can learn to manage their symptoms and find a new way to live.  


What is a SUD?  How do you identify someone suffering from a SUD?  What do you do if you were diagnosed? 


This post will answer all those questions and help SUD sufferers find the treatment they need.   


Keep reading to learn more about SUDs and what you can do to help yourself or someone you love.  


What is a SUD? 


A Substance Use Disorder is a medical condition defined by the inability to control the use of a particular substance despite harmful consequences.  


SUDs can range from mild to severe depending on the number of diagnostic criteria the individual meets.  


Here are the DSM-5’s (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) criteria for SUDs: 


  • Taking the substance for long periods or in larger amounts than intended. 

  • Being unable to cut down or stop substance use. 

  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of the substance. 

  • Experiencing cravings, or intense desires or urges for the substance. 

  • Failing to fulfill obligations at home, work, or school due to substance use. 

  • Continuing substance use despite having interpersonal or social problems that are caused or worsened by substance use. 

  • Giving up social, recreational, or occupational activities due to substance use. 

  • Using the substance in risky or dangerous situations. 

  • Continuing substance use despite having a physical or mental problem that is probably due to substance use. 

  • Tolerance, or needing more of the substance to achieve previous effects. 

  • Withdrawal, means unpleasant symptoms occur when you stop using your substance of choice. 


People who meet 2-3 of the above criteria are considered to have mild SUD, those who display 4-5 of the above have moderate SUD, and those who display 6 or more of the above have severe SUD. 


How to Seek Treatment after a SUD Diagnosis 


If a medical professional has diagnosed you or a loved one with a SUD, then it’s time to seek treatment.  


Substances can range from alcohol, marijuana, and hallucinogens to cocaine and opioids. The presence of a SUD is characterized by the criteria listed in the above section, not necessarily the danger of the substance used. Even so-called harmless substances like cannabis can create a SUD in a person.  


Unfortunately, many people suffering from SUDs do not seek treatment. However, treatment can help even those suffering from mild SUD.  


Here are a few different types of treatment. 


  • Drug detox. A medically supervised detox helps you safely withdraw from an addictive substance to enter treatment. 

  • Inpatient rehab. A type of treatment for substance use disorders includes therapy where they are in a treatment facility and receive round-the-clock care and monitoring, as well as therapy and medication. 

  • Outpatient rehab. The patient lives at home from this substance use therapy. They will typically travel to a facility for regular treatment. For severe cases, patients will be in-clinic several hours a day, for several days a week. Treatment can be as little as an hour a week for mild cases.  

  • Co-occurring mental health condition treatment. This substance use therapy involves treating mental health conditions as well as SUD. This treatment addresses both issues as they can often affect each other.  

Regardless of whether the person suffers from a mild or severe SUD, substance use therapy and substance use prevention can be effective at getting their condition under control.  


Child Focus is Here to Help 


If you or someone you love is suffering from a SUD, Child Focus is here to help. 


Children as young as 12 years old can suffer from SUDs, so sufferers of all ages must seek treatment.  


One of the best ways to prevent substance use and help control a SUD is through regular individual or family therapy. 


If you are looking for regular therapy or are looking for a way to help, get your SUD under control, then it is time to reach out to Child Focus.