Substance Abuse Treatment Los Angeles

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Substance abuse is when someone uses drugs or alcohol in a harmful way. It can cause problems with their health, relationships, and how they do in school or at work. It is important to understand substance abuse so we can help people who are struggling with it.

If you or someone you know is dealing with substance abuse, find help and support. There are many resources and treatments that can help people get better and live healthier lives. You can also Contact us today at (323)307-7997 to speak with a qualified mental health professional who can provide support and guidance on the journey toward recovery.

Most Commonly Abused Drugs

Let’s take a closer look at some drugs that people often misuse and understand how these substances can harm us and why staying away from them is important.

  • Alcohol

Alcohol is a drink that many people enjoy, but it can also be harmful. Drinking too much alcohol can cause health problems, accidents, and addiction.

  • Prescription and Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medicine

Some medicines can be helpful when used correctly, but they can also be dangerous if misused. Prescription and over-the-counter medicines can be abused, leading to addiction and other health problems.

  • Heroin

Heroin is an illegal drug that is very dangerous. People who use heroin can become addicted and have serious health problems.

  • Cocaine

Cocaine is another illegal drug that is harmful. It can cause heart problems, addiction, and other health issues.

  • Marijuana

Marijuana is a drug that some people use for medical reasons or to relax. However, it can also be abused and cause problems with memory, learning, and addiction.

  • Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products

Tobacco products like cigarettes and chewing tobacco can be addictive and cause health problems like cancer and heart disease.

Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of substance abuse is crucial in identifying potential problems with drugs or alcohol and providing the necessary support and intervention. Behavioral, physical, and psychological indicators such as changes in behavior or mood, neglect of responsibilities, social withdrawal, physical health issues, and cravings can all be warning signs of substance abuse.

Understanding these signs and seeking professional help and support can promote early detection and effective treatment, ultimately leading to improved health and well-being.

Causes of Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can have various underlying causes, such as peer pressure, family history of addiction, mental health disorders, high levels of stress or trauma, and exposure to drugs at a young age.

Understanding these reasons can aid in comprehending why individuals may engage in substance abuse and how to prevent it from occurring.

Here are a few potential causes of substance abuse to consider:

  • Peer Pressure

Wanting to fit in or be accepted by friends can lead to trying drugs or alcohol, even if someone knows it’s harmful.

  • Family History of Addiction

Having family members with addiction problems can increase the risk of developing substance abuse issues due to genetic factors and exposure to drug or alcohol use.

  • Mental Health Problems

People with mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, may use drugs or alcohol to cope with their symptoms, leading to substance abuse.

  • Stress or Trauma

Experiencing high levels of stress or traumatic events can make someone more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope, which can result in substance abuse.

  • Exposure to Drugs at a Young Age

Being exposed to drugs, either through friends or family members, can increase the likelihood of trying substances and developing a drug addiction.

Diagnosis and Treatment for Substance Abuse

Diagnosis involves checking for signs of drug or alcohol misuse, and treatment can include different methods like therapy and medication. It helps doctors find out if someone is struggling with substance abuse and the ways they can help.

Substance use disorder is a mental health problem that happens when someone has trouble controlling their use of drugs or alcohol. This can lead to addiction and other problems.
The DSM-5 is a book that doctors use to diagnose mental health problems. It has a list of signs that someone might have a substance use disorder:
  • Taking more of the substance than intended

Using larger amounts of a drug or for longer periods than originally planned, as defined by the mental health services administration.

  • Unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control the use

Repeated efforts to reduce or stop drug misuse, often without success.

  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the substance

A significant amount of time is devoted to activities related to drug use, including finding and using illicit drugs or other drugs.

  • Craving the substance

A strong desire or urge to use the substance, often leading to recurrent substance use.

  • Failing to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home due to substance use

Drug use results in poor performance, repeated absences, or neglect of responsibilities.

  • Continued use despite social or interpersonal problems caused or worsened by the substance

Ignoring the adverse effects of drug use on relationships and social interactions.

  • Giving up or reducing important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of substance use

Substance use leads to less participation in activities that were once enjoyed, such as hobbies or spending time with friends.

  • Recurrent substance use in situations where it’s physically hazardous

Using drugs or alcohol in risky situations, like driving or operating machinery.

  • Continuing to use the substance despite knowing it’s causing or worsening a physical or psychological problem

Ignoring the negative impact of drug use on physical health or mental disorders.

  • Developing a tolerance to the substance

Needing more of the drug to achieve the same effect results in increased risk and higher doses.

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop using the substance

Unpleasant physical or psychological symptoms occur when stopping or reducing drug use.

The DSM-5, created by the American Psychiatric Association, outlines these criteria to help healthcare providers diagnose and treat substance use disorders. Understanding these criteria can help individuals recognize when they may need additional resources and support to address their substance use.

Doctors and counselors will ask questions and do tests to find out if someone has a substance use disorder. They might also talk to family members or look at the person’s medical history.

There are different levels of treatment for substance abuse, like inpatient care, where someone stays at a treatment center, or outpatient care, where they go to appointments but live at home.

Inpatient treatment is when someone stays at a special center to get help with their substance abuse. They have therapy, activities, and support from doctors and counselors.

Outpatient treatment is when someone gets help with their substance abuse but still lives at home. They go to appointments with doctors and counselors and might also attend support group meetings.

Sometimes people have both substance abuse problems and other mental health issues. Dual diagnosis treatment helps with both of these problems at the same time.

There are different types of therapy that can help people with substance abuse, like talking to a counselor or learning new skills to deal with stress and emotions.

  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone
  • Acamprosate
  • Disulfiram
  • Detoxification

Removing the illicit drug or synthetic drugs from the body and managing withdrawal symptoms under medical supervision.

  • Inpatient or outpatient treatment

Choosing a treatment program that best suits the individual’s needs and situation, taking into account factors such as the severity of the addiction and psychological problems.

  • Behavioral therapy

Participating in therapy to identify triggers for drug use, develop coping strategies, and improve communication skills.

  • Medication-assisted treatment

Using medications as prescribed by a healthcare professional to help reduce cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms.

  • Support groups

Joining a group of individuals with similar experiences provides encouragement, understanding, and accountability during the recovery process.

Relapse is when someone starts using drugs or alcohol again after they have stopped. There are things people can do to prevent relapse:
  • Identifying triggers

Recognizing situations, emotions, or people that may increase the risk of returning to drug use.

  • Developing coping skills:

Learning healthy ways to deal with stress, cravings, and negative emotions that might lead to continued substance use.

  • Building a supportive network

Surrounding oneself with supportive friends and family members who encourage sobriety and help maintain a substance-free lifestyle.

  • Continuing therapy or counseling

Engaging in ongoing therapy to address psychological problems and reinforce healthy behaviors.

  • Prioritizing self-care

Practicing good physical and mental health habits, such as exercise, proper nutrition, and sufficient sleep.

Aftercare is the help and support someone gets after they finish treatment for substance abuse.
  • Regular follow-up appointments

Meeting with healthcare providers or counselors to discuss progress and address any new challenges.

  • Ongoing support group participation

Continue to attend support group meetings to maintain motivation and accountability. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can help people who are dealing with substance abuse. These groups have meetings where people can talk about their experiences and get support from others who understand what they are going through.

  • Developing a relapse prevention plan

Creating a detailed plan outlining steps to take if a relapse occurs, including who to contact and what actions to take.

  • Engaging in meaningful activities

Pursuing hobbies, volunteering, or joining social clubs to create a sense of purpose and build connections with others.

  • Continuing to monitor and manage mental health

Regularly assessing and addressing any co-occurring mental health disorders or psychological issues that could increase the risk of relapse.

Substance Use and Co-occurring Disorders

Substance use and co-occurring disorders are when someone is dealing with substance abuse and another mental health problem at the same time. These might be things like depression, anxiety, or other disorders.

Substance Abuse Prevention and Resources

There are things we can do to prevent substance use disorders:

Addressing risk factors and providing support to individuals at higher risk for developing substance use disorders.

  • Education

Teaching about the dangers of drug use and the potential for addiction, particularly in schools and community settings.

  • Parental Involvement

Encouraging open communication between parents and children about the risks associated with substance use.

  • Healthy Coping Strategies

Promoting alternative ways to manage stress, emotions, and peer pressure without resorting to drug use.

Some things can make a person more likely to develop a substance use disorder:
  • Family History of Addiction

Genetic predisposition to substance abuse and addiction.

  • Early Exposure to Drugs

Experimenting with drugs or alcohol at a young age can increase the risk of developing a substance use disorder.

  • Mental Health Disorders

Co-occurring mental health issues can contribute to substance abuse as a form of self-medication.

  • Social Environment

Peer pressure, exposure to drug use, and lack of support can increase the likelihood of substance abuse.

Programs in schools and communities can help prevent substance use disorders by teaching people about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and helping them make healthy choices.

An intervention is when family and friends come together to help someone with a substance abuse problem. They might share their feelings, offer support, and encourage the person to get help.

A substance abuse counselor helps people with substance abuse problems through:
  • Assessment

Evaluating the severity of a client’s substance use disorder and any co-occurring mental health disorders.

  • Treatment planning

Developing an individualized treatment plan to address the client’s specific needs and goals.

  • Counseling

Providing individual, group, or family therapy to help clients understand the root causes of their addiction and develop coping strategies.

  • Referrals

Connect clients with additional resources, such as support groups, medical professionals, or social services.

  • Relapse Prevention

Assisting clients in identifying triggers and developing strategies to maintain long-term sobriety.

There are many treatment centers and resources to help people with substance abuse problems. You can find places near you by searching online or asking your doctor or counselor for suggestions.

As technology advances, new methods of treatment are becoming available to people struggling with substance abuse, such as:
  • Telehealth Services

Telehealth allows for remote patient monitoring, virtual appointments, and digital communication between healthcare providers and patients. This can be particularly beneficial for those living in rural areas or those who are unable to attend sessions physically. For example, a person struggling with alcohol abuse can attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings online, receive counseling through video calls, or use digital tools to track their progress.

  • Mobile Apps

Several apps have been developed to help manage addiction and maintain recovery. Apps like “Sober Grid” and “I Am Sober” offer community support, motivational tools, and ways to track sobriety.

  • Online Support Groups

Online platforms offer various forms of community support, including forums, chat rooms, and virtual meetings. These services provide a sense of community and shared experience that can be crucial for recovery.

  • Virtual Reality Therapy

Emerging technology like virtual reality (VR) is being explored as a tool for treating substance abuse. VR can be used to simulate real-life situations that might trigger substance use, allowing patients to develop coping strategies in a safe, controlled environment.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning

AI can be used to identify patterns and predict behaviors related to substance abuse, potentially allowing for early intervention. Machine learning algorithms can analyze data to predict relapse, helping health professionals intervene before a setback occurs.

  • Genetic Testing

Some companies are developing genetic tests to help predict a person’s risk of addiction, allowing for early intervention and personalized treatment plans.

Remember, while these emerging technologies are promising, they are supplements to, not replacements for, traditional treatment methods such as counseling and medication. Always consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice and treatment.

Substance abuse represents a significant challenge in the United States, affecting a diverse range of individuals across various demographics.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), providing extensive data on mental health conditions, substance use, and treatment in the United States.

The report revealed that 21.9% of people aged 12 or older, or 61.2 million individuals, used illicit drugs in the past year, with marijuana being the most commonly used.

Furthermore, the survey found that 16.5% of the population, equating to 46.3 million people, met the criteria for having a substance use disorder in the past year, yet 94% of those with a disorder did not receive any treatment.

The study also highlighted mental health concerns, with one in five adolescents experiencing a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year and nearly a quarter of adults reporting a mental illness.

Notably, 13.5% of young adults aged 18 to 25 had both a substance use disorder and mental illness.

In terms of mental health crises, 12.3 million adults had serious thoughts of suicide, with 3.5 million making suicide plans and 1.7 million attempting suicide.

However, the report also noted recovery, with 72.2% of adults with a history of substance use problems and 66.5% of adults with a past mental health issue considering themselves in recovery.

Therefore, it is crucial to expand access to effective treatments, reduce the stigma associated with substance abuse, and address the underlying social determinants that contribute to substance misuse across diverse population groups in the United States.


Substance use disorder is a serious issue that affects many people’s lives. It is important to understand what substance abuse is and how it can be treated. There are many different types of drugs that can be abused, and there are signs and symptoms that can help identify if someone has a problem.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. There are many resources and treatments available that can help people recover and live healthier, happier lives.

Don’t Wait. Get Help Now.

Substance abuse can have serious consequences, so it’s important to get help as soon as possible. The sooner someone gets help, the better their chances are for a successful recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

Questions About Treatment Options For Substance Use Disorder?

Our admission specialists are available 24/7 to listen to your story and get you started with next steps.

Nawi, A.M., Ismail, R., Ibrahim, F. et al. Risk and protective factors of drug abuse among adolescents: a systematic review. BMC Public Health 21, 2088 (2021).

Alsuhaibani, R., Smith, D.C., Lowrie, R. et al. Scope, quality and inclusivity of international clinical guidelines on mental health and substance abuse in relation to dual diagnosis, social and community outcomes: a systematic review. BMC Psychiatry21, 209 (2021).

“SUBSTANCE-RELATED DISORDERS.” Drexel University College of

Heijdra Suasnabar, J.M., Hipple Walters, B. Community-based psychosocial substance use disorder interventions in low-and-middle-income countries: a narrative literature review. Int J Ment Health Syst14, 74 (2020).

“2021 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Releases.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), (2021),

“SAMHSA Announces National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Results Detailing Mental Illness and Substance Use Levels in 2021.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 4 Jan. 2023,

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