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Substance Abuse Quick Guide

The Substance Abuse Quick Guide is for individuals who struggle to connect to normal life without immoderate or incorrect use of substances (prescribed or illegally).  The individual may not be in a place to understand the harm in their behavior and therefore may not be willing to engage in services. Other times the individual may understand there need to seek treatment but are struggling to take the right steps to find it or to maintain their treatment. For more information see Substance Use, Abuse and Dependence Definitions.

The primary goal of the Substance Abuse Quick Guide is to assist clients in better understanding substance abuse and to give them the tools to assess the potential of a substance abuse issue within themselves or another.
The secondary goal of the quick guide is to guide them to the resources needed to help them find treatment.


  • Change is not instantaneous, but rather occurs in stages that can be revisited throughout the change process. Depending on which stage of change someone is in will determine which intervention or treatment that will have the most effect. For more information on the stages of change during Substance Abuse see the Substance Use Stages document.
  • For children growing up in an environment that included addiction, there can be lifelong issues if the problem is ignored. Instead it is best to speak openly to children who have grown up in a home with addiction. For more information, see the Talking to a child about addiction document.
  • Substance abuse among Veterans is a growing issue, especially as more and more Veterans are coming back from war and facing mental health issues such as PTSD. There is increased risk of substance abuse among Veterans who experience PTSD and other mental health issues. For more information see the Substance Abuse in the Military document.

The first step in seeking treatment is first identifying that there is a problem. If client is struggling to realize if they have a substance abuse problem, or is unsure of the extent of the problem, consider having them take a Substance Abuse Screening.

There are many factors at play that determine drug dependence; including a complex combination of environmental, genetic and developmental factors that lead to the disease that is substance dependence. For more information on the causes and progression of drug abuse, see the drug facts understanding addiction document, also available in Spanish.

Drug abuse in adolescence is a huge concern. Not only is this the age where drug use tends to peak, but also dependence during this critical age can lead to a lifelong battle with drug abuse and dependence. If parent(s) or guardian(s) are concerned about drug use within their adolescent, consider looking at the Warning Signs of Substance Abuse in Youth document.

For more information on resources to help within the community see the Substance Abuse Resource Tool