When substance use begins to impact an individual’s relationships, obligations in personal, academic, or professional realms, and/or physical health, an evaluation for treatment may be indicated. Research indicates that there is a high prevalence of comorbidity of mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders; many people use drugs or alcohol to “self-medicate” symptoms such as anxiety, depression, psychosis, or mood lability, and it is rare that a substance abuse disorder occurs in isolation.
In all cases, a thorough assessment is necessary to determine the function and impact of the substance abuse, along with underlying mental health symptoms and environmental and relational stressors. In some cases, referral to a higher level of care is indicated, such as a detoxification or residential treatment program. Evidence-based treatment plans may involve some combination of the following: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Substance Abuse, referral to 12-step programs, and/or referral for psychopharmacology.