Types of Substance Use Disorders

Learn more about types of substance use disorders, relationship between SUD and mental health, causes and treatment.

What Is Substance Use Disorder?

A substance use disorder (SUD) is a mental illness that affects a person’s brain and behavior, causing them to lose control over their substance use, such as legal or illicit drugs, alcohol, or prescriptions. Addiction disorder is the most severe substance use disorder, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe.

It is important to note that according to studies, nearly half of those who have a substance use disorder will also have a co-occurring mental condition in their lives, and vice versa. Anxiety disorders, depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), personality disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia are examples of co-occurring disorders. 1

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Substance Abuse Disorder and Mental Health—What Comes First?

Substance use disorder and mental health challenges might co-occur in most cases. One does not necessarily have to come first. Research suggests a dual diagnosis for both with ‘co-occurring disorders.’ 2

Both the mental health condition and the alcohol or drug addiction have their symptoms in co-occurring disorders, which can interfere with one’s ability to perform at work or school, have a stable home life, deal with life’s challenges, and relate to others. 3

How Does Substance Abuse Impact One’s Life?

Substance abuse, which could lead to addiction, plays a negative role in people’s lives. Although it makes people feel on top of the world for a range of minutes to hours, the aftermath poses the risk of dangerous, and even potentially fatal, consequences. The subsequent use of a substance will have a widespread impact on the lives of the person involved, including their friends or family. For example, a person with limited finances will do anything to make money available to purchase drugs or alcohol, even at the expense of others. Loneliness, anxiety, isolating oneself, and depression may also begin to set in.

Types of Substance Use Disorder

Patients are diagnosed with a specific type of condition based on the principal drug they abusopioid e, such as alcohol or opioid use disorder. However, many people with SUD abuse more than one type of substance, a condition known as polysubstance use disorder; examples are below.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

DBT combines individual talk therapy with group skills training to treat BPD (borderline personality disorder). On the other hand, mental health professionals often use Acceptance and Commitment training with various therapeutic populations with individuals, groups, families, and couples in both short-term and long-term treatment.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy also enables your treatment team to construct and tailor their mindfulness approaches or co-create them with you, rather than following a manualized framework. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is the first Western psychotherapy born from a basic research endeavor incorporated into cognition and human language.

Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol is among the most widely used intoxicating drugs, and its consumption is permitted in almost every country. An alcohol use disorder occurs when people struggle to control their drinking despite negatively impacting their health and relationships (AUD).

Cannabis Use Disorder

Cannabis use disorder (CUD) is a label given to those who have a problem with marijuana. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, or DSM 5, introduced CUD. Symptoms include continued use of cannabis, craving cannabis, and problems keeping relationships.

Phencyclidine Use Disorder

PCP use disorder is a kind of drug abuse disorder defined by a problematic pattern of PCP (or PCP-related substances like ketamine) use that results in clinically sizable impairment or distress. PCP usage can also lead to violence and hostility. Chronic PCP usage can cause cognitive impairment and speech problems that can linger for months.

Hallucinogen Use Disorder

Hallucinogens are a class of medications that modify perception (consciousness of things and situations in the environment), thoughts, and feelings. They create hallucinations, sensations, sounds, and pictures that appear genuine but are not. Hallucinogens impair chemical connections in the brain and spinal cord for a short period.4

Inhalant Use Disorder

Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) is a chronic pattern of opioid use that produces considerable impairment or suffering. It is also known as “opioid abuse or dependence” or “opioid addiction.” Poverty, unemployment, family history of drug abuse, and so on are all known risk factors for opioid usage and addiction. 5

Opioid Use Disorder

Hallucinogens are a class of medications that modify perception (consciousness of things and situations in the environment), thoughts, and feelings. They create hallucinations, sensations, sounds, and pictures that appear genuine but are not. Hallucinogens impair chemical connections in the brain and spinal cord for a short period.4

Symptoms of Substance Use Disorder

To recognize substance use disorder, be wary of the following display of symptoms (either exhibited by yourself or a loved one):

  • Having frequent fights, accidents, or legal trouble
  • Secretive or suspicious behavior
  • Appetite or sleep changes
  • Mood swings or irritability
  • Sudden weight changes
  • Poor physical appearance
  • Smelly breath or clothing

Causes of Substance Use Disorder

It is important to note the potential causes of substance use disorder in order to help mitigate impact and influence positive change. These causes can range from biological to environmental, and will be detailed below:

Biological Factors

Addiction is defined by three types of events in the brain. The desire/anticipation phase comes first, followed by the binge/intoxication phase, and finally, withdrawal/negative affect. The last two stages are dominated by compulsivity and negative reinforcement.

Environmental Factors

Long-term studies have revealed that a person’s environment substantially impacts their likelihood of addiction and relapse. It’s a basic fact: you’re more likely to do the same if you hang out with people who use drugs or drink excessively daily.


Alcohol or drug addiction is primarily typical in adolescents due to their wide range of associations. Adolescents are more likely to develop long-term consequences like mental disorders, underperformance in school, substance use disorder, and higher addiction rates.

Types of Substance Use Disorders

Substance Use Disorder Treatments at Essence Healthcare

At Essence Healthcare, your well-being is our top priority. We offer the following services to ensure that you can regain autonomy over your own livelihood, free of substance use and the grapples of addiction:

  • Drug detox: Detoxification (detox) is the process of a person’s body being cleansed of drugs or alcohol they have taken. 
  • Inpatient rehabilitation: Inpatient rehabilitation is often known as residential therapy. Patients are cared for at a clinic that provides medical and emotional assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Outpatient rehabilitation: In comparison to inpatient drug rehab, outpatient drug rehab is less restrictive. Outpatient treatment programs often need 10 to 12 hours of weekly attendance at a local treatment facility. Patients may also be given substance use disorder medications to aid rehab.

Identifying Co-occurring Mental Health Disorders

People in medication-assisted therapy frequently have both a mental illness and a drug use problem, known as co-occurring disorder. 9.2 million individuals in the US have a co-occurring condition.

We will ensure that not only are your needs met regarding substance use addiction, but that we guide you towards a path that identifies and heals the root of the problem. We will ensure that you are given the proper tools to address any mental illnesses, helping you to remain free of addiction for the long haul. 6

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Questions About Treatment?

We are a patient-first substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in Los Angeles, California. At Essence Healthcare, we provide different levels of care from detoxification to drug rehab aftercare. Our team is standing by to address your questions. Your call is confidential and no obligation is required.