Mclean Hospital

About Addiction

Learn More About Alcohol and Drug Misuse

Substance misuse, or addiction to drugs or alcohol, is a recognized medical brain disorder. This psychiatric illness refers to the abuse of illegal or legal substances such as alcohol, opiates, cocaine, marijuana, and so on. Substance abuse causes serious problems at work, school, in relationships, and with the law.

These behaviors likely signal a problem with drug or alcohol use:

  • Getting high or drunk on a regular basis
  • Lying, especially about how much you are using or drinking
  • Avoiding friends and family members
  • Giving up activities you used to enjoy, such as sports or socializing with non-using friends
  • Talking or thinking a lot about using drugs or alcohol
  • Believing you need to use or drink to have fun
  • Pressuring others to use or drink
  • Getting in trouble with the law
  • Taking risks, such as sexual risks or driving under the influence of a substance
  • Diminishing work performance due to substance misuse before, after, or during work hours
  • Missing work due to substance use
  • Feeling depressed or hopeless, or having thoughts of self-harm or suicide
Treatment at McLean
Addiction to drugs or alcohol is a serious but treatable condition

Though the exact cause of substance misuse and dependence is unclear, it likely involves a mix of genetic, environmental, and emotional factors. However, while the first use of drugs or alcohol is voluntary, continued use quickly causes changes in the brain so that a person no longer has control. Substance use disorders result in the compulsive need for the substance.

Addiction to drugs or alcohol is most often accompanied by additional mental health diagnoses including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Treatment for substance use disorders may incorporate a combination of group, family, and individual therapy targeted at medical stabilization, reducing the severity of the patient’s symptoms, and providing tools, ongoing support, and resources to prevent relapse and address co-occurring symptoms.

Learn More About Addiction

You may find these resources valuable to understand more about addiction to drugs and alcohol: