Substance Dependence

Substance abuse disorders formerly known as Substance Dependent or addicted are a wide spread problem that has no bias towards age, sex, gender or economic standing. What is it and how do I know if I have a problem? Here is something for sure, substance abuse hits everyone, and we all know –  It is not just the guy down on 3rd avenue sleeping on the street and drinking rot gut out of a brown bag. – It is the straight A student, football captain, PTA president, the grocer, banker, preschool teacher, cop.  We read about and see TV and movie celebrities, getting publicity for publicly sharing their downfalls. But the sad truth is there is no glamour in substance abuse. It is lonely, scary and shameful. It robs health, self-esteem, pride, love, family, financial stability and jobs.  It steals mental and emotional well-being for many.

If you, or someone you know or love is considering stopping using drugs or alcohol it is important they do not stop without doctor’s supervision, if there are signs of withdrawal. Signs of withdrawal can include: early morning (or anytime shakes if having gone more than a few hours without substance of choice), vomiting, headaches, tremors. Go to your local Emergency Room immediately or Urgent Care.

Criteria for determining substance abuse:

Substance dependence is defined as a maladaptive pattern of substance use, leading to clinically significant tolerance, impairment, or distress.

  1. Tolerance
    Defined by either of the following:
    – A need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or desired effect
    – Markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance
  2. Withdrawal
    Manifests by either of the following:
    – The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the specific substance
    – The same substance, or one closely related, is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms
  3. The substance is often taken in larger amounts or over longer periods of time than was intended
  4. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control the substance use
  5. Loss of control
  6. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of the substance use
  7. The substance use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance.


Returning to health and increased satisfaction in life and relationships, also commonly known as: “recovery”.

12 Step Programs

24 hour drug and alcohol hotline


SAMHSA Treatment Center guide (national)

Smart Recovery

For parents of youth who struggle with substance abuse or addiction:

Beautiful Boy, David Sheff


For Youth facing addiction

Dharma Punx – Noah Levine

HBO special: Addiction

For families and loved ones of those who struggle:

The Family Recovery Guide, Stephanie Brown, PHD

Love First, Debra Jay & Jeff Jay

Alanon and Alateen, Worldwide Fellowship


Laara worked as the family counselor for over two years at Residence XII, a women’s residential and outpatient treatment program in Kirkland, WA (just outside of Seattle). There she led educational groups for the women in treatment and support groups for loved ones. In addition she led the education program for family teaching subjects such as: Addiction, Boundaries, Codependency, Communication and more. She has helped many men and women recover a life of health and well-being.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *