Substance Use

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Substance use disorders can affect people from all walks of life and all age groups. They affect both those who are having a problem with substance use and the friends, family, coworkers, and peers in their lives. The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that about 20.3 million individuals 12 and older had a substance use disorder in 20181.

When we use the term substance use disorder, we are talking about the official term for what is commonly recognized in society as “addiction.” Not all people who use substances have a substance use disorder. Substance use disorder symptoms can cause problems in behavior, relationships, and emotional responses. 

People battling substance use disorder need to be surrounded by people with supportive attitudes and actions. This starts with each of us individually. We can be the voice of hope, encouragement, and support for people who struggle with substance use. For those wrestling with problems related to substance use, hope and recovery are possible. 

Treatment isn’t just about reducing or ending the use of substances. It’s also about a long-term movement towards recovery. Recovery is a process of change where people move toward their fullest potential. Treatment looks at the person as a whole and how they can improve their quality of life and participate in society in ways that are meaningful to them. Hope and resilience are possible. Hope means believing that where you are today is not where you will be forever. Recovery is different for every person and one person’s goals are not another’s.

Outreach, screening, assessment, and referral centers (OSAR) may be the first point of contact for people seeking substance use disorder treatment services. Texas residents who are seeking services and information may qualify for services based on need. OSARs are now located at local mental health or behavioral health authorities in all 11 Texas Health and Human Service regions. Search for your local OSAR here.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Substance Use Disorder

Substance use includes a variety of substances, and some of these are very different from each other. That’s why the physical signs and symptoms of using substances will change depending on the substance. Substance use does have common behavioral symptoms though. Some signs and symptoms of all substance use disorders include:

  • Having intense urges to use substances
  • Needing more of the substance to get the same effect (tolerance)
  • Spending a lot of time thinking about the substance (how it feels, where/when/how to get more, etc.)
  • Having trouble stopping use, even if the person wants to
  • Changes in sleep or appetite (too much or too little)
  • Having a negative physical reaction (withdrawal) if you stop using the substance (feeling shaky, dizzy, depressed, excessive sweating, headaches, upset stomach, etc.)

If you experience difficulty accessing care or if you’re having issues with your health plan, the Texas Department of Insurance and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Office of the Ombudsman might be able to help. They can also help you learn more about your rights.


  1. SAMHSA: Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and HealthKey Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Substance Use resources

Learn more about Substance Use and other behavioral health conditions at our eLearning Hub. The quick, informative courses are designed to equip you with knowledge, resources, and hope for the future – for yourself or for someone else you care about.

Visit eLearning Hub

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