Substance Use Disorder (SUD) occurs when you are unable to stop or control your substance use despite ongoing negative consequences.  SUD can cause issues with physical and mental health, as well as lead to problems at home, work, and school.  Alcohol is typically considered the most commonly used substance and statistics show that more than 6% of American adults qualify for Alcohol Use Disorder.  Cannabis is another widely used substance and it is thought that roughly 30% of individuals that use cannabis meet the criteria for Cannabis Use Disorder.  Other commonly used substances include: opiates (Vicodin, Percocet, heroin, fentanyl), stimulants (Adderall, cocaine, methamphetamine), benzodiazepines (Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan), hallucinogens (LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, MDMA/Ecstasy, DXM, ketamine) as well as inhalants and many others.

Signs of Substance Use Disorder

While the effects of different substances can vary from person to person, there are many common signs of Substance Use Disorder.  It is important to recognize when you or a loved one may be suffering from SUD.  Examples of “warning signs” include:

  • You are using more of a substance or for a longer period of time than intended
  • You want to stop or moderate substance use but are unable to do so
  • You spend a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from the use of the substance
  • You experience cravings to use the substance
  • Your substance use is impacting functioning at work, school, or home
  • You continue to use even when it causes problems in relationships
  • You have given up or cut back on important social, occupational, or recreational activities due to substance use
  • You continue to use substances even when it is physically dangerous
  • You continue to use substances despite knowing you have a physical or psychological problem that was caused (or made worse) by substance use
  •  You need to use more of a substance in order to get the intended effect (tolerance)
  • You develop symptoms of withdrawal that are relieved by using a substance

Seeking Help

Substance Use Disorder can be incredibly distressing for both the individual with the substance use disorder as well as their loved ones.  It is important to remember that help is available, and recovery is possible (for family and loved ones as well!).  By seeking treatment, it is possible to join the more than 20 million Americans who currently live in recovery.  It is important to remember that just like everyone’s substance use may present a little differently, everyone’s path to recovery may be different.  Like other diseases, relapse can be a part of the process.  Forms of treatment and therapy can include:

  • Peer/mutual support (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, Recovery Dharma, etc.)
  • Outpatient Therapy (individual therapy, intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization)
  • Sober Living houses
  • Medication Assisted Recovery (Naltrexone, Vivitrol, Suboxone, Methadone)
  • Residential/Inpatient Treatment


Free, confidential counseling is available at the University Counseling Center, 206 Health Services Building, 610-519-4050.



In an emergency, call Villanova Public Safety at 610-519-4444.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 988.