Find Help for Substance and Alcohol Use


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Identifying substance use disorders can be confusing. Optum has developed these FAQs to assist you as you try to find appropriate answers to your questions regarding treatment and payment for services here.

Being diagnosed with a substance use issue can be challenging. You and your family members might have feelings or questions. These short videos are created by people who have been diagnosed, treated and have moved to recovery and by an expert psychiatrist who can speak about treatment. Your diagnosis is the beginning of your move to wellness. These videos can help you start the journey with confidence. Just Diagnosed Substance Use Disorder

You've Just Been Diagnosed

For Your Loved One


Substance Use Disorder can be a problem not just for adults but also for teens and children. Abuse of alcohol, illegal drugs and over-the-counter medications, tobacco and inhalants can lead to dependency and serious medical, relationship, and performance problems.

Alcohol-Related Conditions are characterized by the excessive and/or inappropriate use of alcohol to the extent that the person is at risk for psychological, social, occupational, legal, and physical problems. Alcohol abuse causes over 100,000 deaths in the United States and Canada each year. It is the most commonly abused drug by children ages 12 to 17. Alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in teenagers.

Alcohol abuse means having unhealthy or dangerous drinking habits, such as drinking every day or drinking too much at a time. Alcohol abuse can harm your relationships, cause you to miss work, and make it hard to do the things you need to do. It can lead to legal problems, such as being arrested for disorderly conduct or driving while intoxicated. If alcohol abuse continues, it can lead to alcohol dependence.

People who are dependent on alcohol cannot quit drinking or control how much they drink, even when they try to. They are physically and emotionally addicted to alcohol. They often feel like they must drink just to get by. They might drink secretly or hide the amount they drink. Alcohol controls their lives. Over time, an individual may need to drink more before they can feel the effects of alcohol. They get grouchy or shaky or have other withdrawal symptoms when they are not able to drink or when they try to quit.

Drug-Related Conditions are characterized by the use of illegal drugs or the incorrect use of prescription medication to the extent that the person is at risk for psychological, social, occupational, legal, and/or physical problems. Drug abuse includes the use of illegal drugs — such as marijuana, methamphetamines, cocaine, heroin, or other "street drugs" — and the abuse of legal prescription and nonprescription drugs. In the US and Canada, approximately 40% of adults will use illegal drugs during their lives.

Drug dependence or addiction occurs when you develop a physical or emotional "need" for a drug. You are unable to control your use of a drug despite the negative impact it has on your life. You may not be aware that you have become dependent on a drug until you try to stop taking it. Drug withdrawal can cause uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous symptoms.

Teens and Adolescent Substance Abuse can include cigarettes, chewing tobacco, alcohol, drugs (prescriptions and over-the-counter) including inhalants.

While many teens try alcohol or drugs, using these substances is neither safe nor legal. Some teens experiment with drugs or alcohol only a few times, but experimentation can become substance abuse and lead to serious problems, such as poor school performance, loss of friends, problems at home, and even lasting legal consequences.

Teens use alcohol and other drugs for many reasons. They may do it because they want to fit in socially, they like the way drugs or alcohol makes them feel, or they want to feel more grown up. Teens tend to be risk-takers, and they may take drugs or drink because it seems exciting. Teens who are at the biggest risk for developing serious alcohol or drug problems include those with family members who have problems with alcohol or other drugs. Also, teens who feel that they are not connected to or valued by their parents or who have poor self-esteem or emotional or mental health problems (such as depression) may be at increased risk.

Younger children may also experiment if substances are available which may include — glue, paint and other household chemicals or inhalants.

Alcohol Use Disorder & Substance Use Disorder/ Dependence Resource Centers

If your employer/health plan provides behavioral health benefits from Optum, United Behavioral Health or one of our partner organizations, log in to liveandworkwell.com and check out the "Health & Well-Being" tab to find Centers on all of these topics.

Each center includes an overview, self-help programs and assessments, helpful articles, resources and links. We also offer a search tool to help you find a professional clinician or facility that specializes in alcohol and other drug use issues and problems.



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