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Substance Use Disorder

Drug addiction or substance use disorder is a disease that affects an individual’s behavior and thought processes, which causes the inability to manage the use of legally prescribed medication or illegal drugs.  Long term drug use can result in a chemical imbalance in the brain that makes quitting extremely difficult even for those with a desire to stop.

Substance use can make daily activities difficult and impair a person’s ability to work, interact with family, and fulfill other major life functions.

  • “Addiction” is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences.
  • “Dependence” is a condition characterized by withdrawal symptoms when drug use is stopped.
  • "Abuse" can result because you are using a substance in a way that is not intended or recommended, or because you are using more than prescribed.
  • “Misuse” is the problematic use of legal drugs or prescription medications.

"Substances" can include alcohol and other drugs (illegal or not) as well as some substances that are not drugs at all.

Commonly Abused Drug Charts

There are different drug types:

  • Stimulants: These drugs increase the user’s level of alertness, pumping up heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and blood glucose levels.
  • Depressants: These drugs often offer a sedative experience to users, making them a tempting choice for teens who wish to escape everyday stresses.
  • Hallucinogens: Users report intense, rapidly shifting emotions and perceptions of things that aren’t really there.
  • Dissociatives: These drugs distort the user’s perception of reality, and cause users to “dissociate,” or feel as if they are watching themselves from outside their own bodies.
  • Opioids: These are powerful painkillers that produce a sense of euphoria in users.
  • Inhalants: Mostly made up of everyday household items, these drugs cause brief feelings of euphoria.
  • Cannabis: Most commonly recognized as marijuana, cannabis acts like a hallucinogen, but also produces depressant-like effects. It is a Schedule I drug (i.e. it has a high potential for addiction) but has increasing medicinal uses in the United States. Still, marijuana is often abused by those who do not medically require it.

If you take opioids for pain management, talk with your doctor about all your pain treatment options, including whether taking an opioid medication is right for you. You might be able to take other medications or do other things to help manage your pain with less risk. What works best is different for each patient. Treatment decisions to start, stop or reduce prescription opioids are individualized and should be made by you and your doctor.

Drug and alcohol use can lead to other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, and death.

Overdose Death Rates


No one factor can predict if a person will become addicted to drugs. A combination of factors influences risk for addiction. The more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction. For example:

  • Genes
  • Other mental disorders
  • Environmental factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, family influence

Help Children and Teens Stay Drug-free


People with drug problems might not act like they used to.

If Your Adult Friend or Loved One Has a Problem

Common signs and symptoms of a drug overdose can include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Unsteady walking
  • Chest pain
  • Severe difficulty breathing, shallow breathing, or complete cessation of breath
  • Gurgling sounds that indicate the person’s airway is blocked
  • Blue lips or fingers
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abnormally high body temperature
  • Violent or aggressive behavior
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Convulsions or tremors

If you believe someone has overdosed, call 911 immediately.


If your doctor suspects that you are misusing alcohol or medications, he or she will first confirm that you are dependent on a harmful substance by:

  • asking you questions
  • reviewing your prescriptions for commonly abused drugs or medicines
  • doing a physical exam
  • ordering blood and urine tests

Substance Abuse Screening


There are several treatment approaches that can be tailored to an individual’s drug use patterns as well as any associated medical, mental health or environmental factors that would impede recovery.  Treatment should be ongoing and adjusted based on individual response.

Beacon Health Options works with GlobalHealth to manage all the behavioral health aspects of the individual’s healthcare. Beacon provides, 24-hour customer care services, clinical support services and valuable connection to resources in the state of Oklahoma.

The following are examples of available treatment programs offered:

  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) – is the use of FDA-approved medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a “holistic” approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.  Individuals must follow the specific program regiment which at a minimum, includes office visits with a SAMSHA certified practitioner, individual or group counseling and prescribed medications.
  • Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) – are all inclusive SAMSHA certified programs available for our Generations plans.  They provide medication-assisted treatment for individuals diagnosed with an opioid use disorder.  In addition, OTPs provide a range of services to reduce, eliminate, or prevent the use of illicit drugs.  OTPs focus on improving the quality of life of those receiving treatment.
  • Office-based opioid treatment (OBOT) – allows primary care physicians or general health care prescribers to dispense or prescribe the appropriate medication for the treatment of opioid use disorders. Some medications may be prescribed as take-home prescriptions, and some administered on-site. Offering treatment through primary care removes barriers for patients seeking treatment.

Beacon will connect individuals to in-network treatment providers.  By improving access to care, Beacon promotes the delivery of a full spectrum of behavioral health care.  The comprehensive and personalized treatment plans offered by contracted licensed practitioners and facilities allow the individual the best opportunity of treatment success.

For information about behavioral health programs, inpatient facilities, individual behavioral health providers (psychiatrists/therapists) or community mental health centers, please call the behavioral health number on the back of your insurance card.

How Can Prescription Drug Addiction Be Treated?

Managing Your Condition

Lifestyle and social changes are as important as your treatment plan, including:

  • The way you deal with stress – do things that challenge your creativity and spark your imagination.
  • Who you allow in your life – stay away from friends who use.
  • What you do in your free time – avoid bars and clubs.
  • How you think about yourself – ask trusted friends, people in your support network and/or a therapist or counselor to give you honest feedback about what they see in you, and any areas that you might want to improve.
  • The prescription and over-the-counter medications you take – tell your doctors or dentists so they can work with you in prescribing alternatives or the absolute minimum medication necessary.

Additional resources