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What is addiction?

Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.

Prevention efforts and treatment approaches for addiction are generally as successful as those for other chronic diseases. (American Society of Addiction Medicine)

What steps occur when an individual is referred because of substance misuse concerns?

Typically, the person is screened by a drug and alcohol professional, then a more formal, comprehensive assessment occurs. After assessment a team of drug and alcohol professionals recommend treatment options that are indicated by the assessment results and the input of the client. It is important to note that there are many paths to recovery. Treatment options may vary depending on local area.

How do I find out about drug and alcohol prevention and treatment services in my area?

There are various prevention and treatment services throughout Pennsylvania. To learn what options are in your area, go to the “Find Help” section of the PA Stop web site where the lead agency (SCA) is listed by county. The SCA agency will be able to provide information about prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery options that are available.

What are some of the treatment options?

You can refer to the information in the Family Tool Kit on the site for a more detailed description of treatment options, but they can include and are not limited to: medication assisted treatment, one-to-one counseling, group counseling, in-patient treatment in a rehabilitation facility, out-patient treatment, support groups, such as AA, and any combination of the above. Some areas of the state may have more options than others.

Do substance misuse problems vary by age level?

Yes, there is no age group immune to the problems caused by substance misuse.

Some examples are listed below:

  • Young Children can be subjected to substance misuse if they live in families where the misuse occurs. Drugs or alcohol in these homes are often more accessible and therefore dangerous to children.
  • Adolescents and Teens can be exposed to tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs either in the home, school, or neighborhood. Experimentation and peer pressure can lead to substance misuse.
  • Young Adults and Adults Over the Age of 21 can legally use alcohol, but misuse at these levels can lead to addiction, DUI, and other problem behaviors. There can also be misuse of prescription drugs whether legally prescribed or illegally obtained.
  • Senior Citizens can also have issues with prescription medications. For example, they may not dose appropriately or might combine medications with alcohol. They are also at risk of being unwitting suppliers of medications stored in their homes. This can happen when visitors or family members take the medications from them without their knowledge. Seniors may also be raising grandchildren due to substance misuse problems of their parents. This can be an additional challenge for them.
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