What Is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse refers to the harmful or unsafe use of alcohol, drugs, and/or other mind-altering substances that typically results in recurring negative consequences. These consequences can range from damaged relationships and poor job/academic performance to serious bodily injury or legal issues. Substance abuse affects people of all backgrounds and walks of life: in 2013, an estimated 21.6 million adolescents (ages 12+) and adults in the U.S. were classified with either substance abuse or dependence.

There is no single direct cause of substance abuse. Many researchers and mental health professionals agree that substance abuse likely stems from a combination of hereditary, environmental, psychological and social factors. For instance, the risk of substance abuse is generally higher in people who have family members with substance abuse or addiction issues, but not everyone may be affected by genetics. Many people are triggered by circumstances or stressors stemming from work, school, relationships, culture, or their surroundings. Sometimes, other mental health conditions like depression or anxiety can contribute to substance abuse when an individual attempts to cope with difficult feelings and experiences through using drugs and/or alcohol.

Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse

Drug or alcohol abuse can be hard to identify, even for the individual experiencing it first-hand. Sometimes close family and friends are also unaware that their loved one is struggling with substance abuse.

If you’re concerned that you or someone you love may have a problem with substance abuse, several common warning signs to look for include:

  • Strained or damaged relationships
  • Diminishing performance at school or work
  • Loss of interest in other activities
  • Drinking or using drugs on a regular basis, perhaps with increasing frequency and amounts used
  • Drinking alone
  • Spending less time with others in order to drink or get high
  • Increased risk-taking or impulsivity
  • Depression
  • Blackouts or short-term memory loss after drinking/using drugs

Austin Substance Abuse Counseling

Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S and Associates provide dynamic outpatient counseling for substance abuse. We are also qualified to conduct full drug and alcohol assessments and addiction counseling if clients are interested. Our approach is collaborative and supportive; we create a safe, nonjudgmental setting for you to reflect on your experiences while offering our insights. Our goal is to help you make the changes you desire in life and ultimately reach a better understanding of yourself. Together, we can examine any underlying issues and work to cope with them in a healthy, constructive way. Through counseling, you can equip yourself with new tools for managing your challenges and caring for yourself.

If you are interested in learning more about substance abuse therapy at our practice, please feel free to call us at 512-914-6635 to set up a consultation. Same day appointments may be available!