Use of alcohol, cannabis, prescription medications, or other drugs can become a way of coping with painful feelings such as sadness, loneliness, depression, or anxiety. Unfortunately, substance use only temporarily blocks these emotions and may actually exacerbate them, leading to additional problems and longer-term suffering. Since substance use is often comorbid with a variety of disorders, it is important to identify the function of substance use for the individual in order to address underlying mental health concerns.
It can be difficult to distinguish normative, age-appropriate “experimentation” with substances from problematic use or signs of a substance use disorder, especially in adolescence. A substance use disorder may start with use of a recreational drug in social settings. However, if an individual finds themselves feeling strong or frequent urges to use the substance (especially in times of under-stimulation or distress), having difficulty abstaining from the substance, engaging in risky behaviors when using, needing more of the substance to achieve relief, or experiencing impairment to their mood, relationships, or functioning, they likely need treatment to address their substance use.
Substance Use-oriented services at BCSC: