Substance Use Disorder

Substance use disorder (SUD) is complex a condition in which there is uncontrolled use of a substance despite harmful consequence. People with SUD have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s) such as alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs, to the point where the person’s ability to function in day-to-day life becomes impaired. People keep using the substance even when they know it is causing or will cause problems.
Repeated substance use can cause changes in how the brain functions. These changes can last long after the immediate effects of the substance wears off, or in other words, after the period of intoxication. Intoxication is the intense pleasure, euphoria, calm, increased perception and sense, and other feelings that are caused by the substance.

Causes of Substance Use Disorder

The exact cause of substance use disorder is not known. A person’s genes, the action of the drug, peer pressure, emotional distress, anxiety, depression, and environmental stress can all be factors.

Stages & Symptoms

There are several stages of drug use that may lead to addiction. Young people seem to move more quickly through the stages than do adults. Stages are:
  • Experimental use — Typically involves peers, done for recreational use; the user may enjoy defying parents or other authority figures.
  • Regular use — The user misses more and more school or work; worries about losing drug source; uses drugs to “fix” negative feelings; begins to stay away from friends and family; may change friends to those who are regular users; shows increased tolerance and ability to “handle” the drug.
  • Problem or risky use — The user loses any motivation; does not care about school and work; has obvious behavior changes; thinking about drug use is more important than all other interests, including relationships; the user becomes secretive; may begin dealing drugs to help support habit; use of other, harder drugs may increase; legal problems may increase.
  • Addiction — Cannot face daily life without drugs; denies problem; physical condition gets worse; loss of “control” over use; may become suicidal; financial and legal problems get worse; may have broken ties with family members or friends.
SUD symptoms or behaviors include, among others:
  • Feeling that you have to use the substance regularly — daily or even several times a day
  • Having intense urges for the substance that block out any other thoughts
  • Over time, needing more of the substance to get the same effect
  • Taking larger amounts of the substance over a longer period than you intended
  • Making certain that you maintain a supply of the substance
  • Spending money on the substance, even though you can’t afford it
  • Not meeting obligations and work responsibilities, or cutting back on social or recreational activities because of substance use
  • Continuing to use the substance, even though you know it’s causing problems in your life or causing you physical or psychological harm
  • Doing things to get the substance that you normally wouldn’t do, such as stealing
  • Driving or doing other risky activities when you’re under the influence of the substance
  • Spending a good deal of time getting the substance, using the substance or recovering from the effects of the substance
  • Failing in your attempts to stop using the substance
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop taking the substance
Seek emergency help if you or someone you know has taken a drug and:
  • May have overdosed
  • Shows changes in consciousness
  • Has trouble breathing
  • Has seizures or convulsions
  • Has signs of a possible heart attack, such as chest pain or pressure
  • Has any other troublesome physical or psychological reaction to use of the drug


Addiction affects each person differently, so it is important for treatment to be individualized as well. Just because something works for one person, doesn’t mean it works for everyone. Over time, needs will change, and so should treatment plans.

Our Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselors, Mental Health Professionals, and Mental Health Practitioners work as a team to help patients work through complex problems and develop a strong recovery plan. You will participate in a SUD Assessment to determine the level of care that would be most beneficial.

The outpatient adolescent (ages 12-18) and adult substance use disorder programs at SteppingStone Therapeutic include:
  • Group counseling
  • Individual counseling
  • Care coordination
  • Family programming
  • Drug screening
  • Peer-led alumni group support

Find help at Crossroads Counseling

If you or someone you love struggle with Substance Use Disorder, discover the world of difference treatment can make for you and your loved ones. Life does not have to be a daily struggle. We're here to help!
Call Crossroads Counseling at (320) 214-8558 or use the button below to request an appointment and get the help you need. Virtual sessions are also available for your convenience.