What is SUD in Mental Health?

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A substance use disorder, also known as SUD(Substance Abuse Disorder), is a type of mental disorder that can play a role in someone’s behavior and thoughts. It can lead to the inability to control the use of substances, like illegal drugs, medications, or alcohol.

The symptoms of SUD can range from moderate to serious. Addiction is the most serious form of SUDs that there is. Understanding SUD is crucial, especially with how it relates to mental health on the whole.

What is SUD in Mental Health?

Those with a substance abuse disorder typically have distorted behaviors and thinking. There are changes in the structure and function of the brain which can lead to changes in personality, abnormal movements, intense cravings, and a litany of other behaviors.

When it comes to asking, “what is SUD in mental health,” the relationship is closer than you may realize. For instance, someone who suffers from SUD typically does so to relieve other problems in their life. They are looking for a “high” that will help them to forget problems, release stress, or numb themselves entirely.

Not only that, but repeated substance use can cause major changes to the way the brain functions. The changes can last well after the effects of the substance have worn off. The period of intoxication is often a period of calm, euphoria, and pleasure. But what comes after can be dramatically different. It all depends on what substance is being used.

Common Risk Factors for Mental Disorders and SUD

The simple fact of the matter is that SUDs, as well as other mental disorders, can be hereditary. When asking SUD, it is helpful to recognize that this is a disorder that can be passed down genetically.

There are environmental factors as well, like trauma or stress, that can accelerate or amplify those potential generic changes. It can also contribute to a particular SUD or mental disorder depending on the circumstances.

Mental disorders can also contribute to not only substance use, but SUDs themselves. There have been studies to show that people with mental disorders—such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD—are more prone to use alcohol or drugs as a way of self-medication.

There is a misconception that said drugs can remove the pain. In reality, they are dulling your feelings until the symptoms become worse over time. Not only that, but brain changes in people who have mental disorders can potentially enhance the “rewarding” features of the substances in question, furthering the dependency on the use of that product.

Finally, substance abuse, as well as SUDs, can contribute to the further development of mental disorders. Frequent substance use can lead to potential triggers within the brain structure and function that are capable of making a person more than likely to develop a certain mental disorder.

Diagnosis and Proper Treatment

It is generally accepted that treatment should be for both mental disorders and SUD at the same time rather than separately. So, if you are looking for treatment for your mental health disorder as well as SUDs, then talking to your local health care provider is the best move you can make.

Since it can be challenging to make a proper diagnosis due to the overlapping symptoms, working with the provider through comprehensive assessments is necessary. This will limit the chance of missing a diagnosis while also providing the necessary targeted treatment.

Treatment can include both behavioral therapies as well as medication. It is imperative that any treatment be tailored specifically to the needs of the person in question. Perhaps there are medications involved in this form of treatment. Perhaps it is a form of therapy instead.

The goal is to meet the specific combination of symptoms and disorders, misused substances, age, and any specific mental disorders. Make sure that you speak to your health care provider to determine what the best course of action is.

Behavioral Therapies

Research supports behavioral therapies as being effective for treating individuals who have mental health disorders. Providers may recommend behavioral therapies on their own or in conjunction with medications.

There are a plethora of different behavioral therapies to choose from. One of the most common is cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT. It centers around conversations, helping patients learn how to deal with these challenges by changing behavior and challenging irrational thoughts.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) uses concepts of acceptance and mindfulness. It also can help control the intense emotions that can sometimes arise from SUDs in particular.

The simple fact of the matter is that there is an offering for just about everyone. If you or someone that you care for has been struggling with substance abuse, it may be time to try behavioral therapy.


Substance abuse and mental disorders go hand-in-hand more often than most people realize. Recognizing the impact that one has on the other is crucial and can lead to the necessary treatment to feel better.

If you or someone that you know has been struggling with a substance use issue, it is time to bring in some help. The road ahead will be a difficult one but one that everyone deserves to travel down at some point.


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