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Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Guide


Substance use disorder (SUD) is a treatable mental disorder that leaves someone unable to control their use of alcohol and drugs, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Substance use causes serious problems at work, school, in relationships and with the law.

Symptoms can be moderate to severe, with addiction being the most severe form of SUD. Those diagnosed with SUD may also suffer from other mental health disorders. Though people might have both a SUD and a mental disorder, that does not mean that one caused the other.


The first step toward recovery is asking for help. Seek out someone you trust, who can support you and help you find the resources you need. Recovery doesn’t happen right away. There are many steps. You’ll learn new, healthy ways to solve problems and how to communicate and resolve conflicts. It takes courage to seek help for a drug problem. But remember that treatment works, there are many paths to help, and people recover every day.

Like other chronic diseases, addiction can be managed successfully. However, it may take several attempts at treatment to find the right approach. Treatment helps people disrupt addiction's powerful effects on the brain and behavior and regain control of their lives.

A counselor or healthcare provider can help you. So can a faith leader trained in substance use counseling. Friends and family may help once you are working with experts. Together you can make changes needed for success. This can help you have a positive and rewarding life.


Recovery begins when you get help and slowly build a new life and lifestyle. You may need the support of others. During recovery, you’ll go through 3 stages. How long each stage lasts varies with each person.

  • Early recovery: The focus is on stopping your drug use or addiction. Most likely, you’ll get help from a therapist, addiction counselor or healthcare provider. You may also attend self-help groups on a regular basis. You’ll avoid people or places that might result in a relapse.
  • Middle recovery: Work on changing your life. You may change your values, move or go back to school. You may start new, healthy relationships. You may end unhealthy relationships. Continue the lifestyle changes and strategies that support sobriety and access healthcare providers or addiction counselors when you are concerned about relapsing.
  •  Late recovery: This stage lasts for the rest of your life. You may feel stronger and healthier. You may have a greater sense of purpose. You may focus on the things that matter to you most. These may include your family, your beliefs, lending a hand to others, etc. You will continue to use the lifestyle changes and strategies that support your sobriety. When you fear relapsing, get help from doctors or addiction counselors.

Types of SUD treatment

  • Residential treatment: Live in a drug-free setting with others in recovery. Community residential treatment can last one to six months. During this time, residents will see a therapist and/or addiction counselor.
  • Outpatient therapy: Visit a therapist or addiction counselor, by yourself or as part of a group. Family members may also take part in treatment.
  • Self-help groups: Offer support and encouragement. There are also support groups for the loved ones of those seeking treatment.
  • Medicine: Treatment may include certain medications that treat addiction such as methadone, disulfiram, buprenorphine, acamprosate and naltrexone. Long-Acting Injectable medications may also help.
  • Alternative treatments: May include acupuncture, biofeedback and hypnosis. Ask your healthcare provider about these options.

For help finding a treatment program in your area visit the online treatment center locator from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It lists facilities across the country and offers guidance about what to expect when looking for treatment, the different kinds of treatment and how to pay for treatment.



Your Behavioral Health benefits include:

  • Assessment Services: Standard assessment of mental health needs and progress
  • Behavioral Health Day Services/Day Treatment: Day treatment and adult day care services
  • Behavioral Health Medical Services (Medication Management, Drug Screening): Services include evaluation of the need for medication; clinical effectiveness and side effects of medication; medication education; and prescribing, dispensing, and administering psychiatric medications
  • Behavioral Health Psychosocial Rehabilitation: Services to help people re-enter everyday life (includes cooking, managing money and performing household chores)
  • Computerized Cognitive Behavioral Analysis: Includes health-focused clinical interview, behavioral observations and health and behavioral interviews for the individual, group and family (with or without the patient present)
  • Equine Therapy: Provided to members with behavioral health conditions and involves activities with horses
  • Medication Assisted Treatment Services: Services used to help those struggling with drug addiction
  • Therapeutic Behavioral On-Site Services: Therapy services, behavior management and therapeutic support coordinated through individualized treatment teams to help prevent members with complex needs from requiring placement in a more intensive, restrictive behavioral health setting
  • Art Therapy: Provided to members with behavioral health conditions in an outpatient setting. Must be delivered by a behavioral health clinician certified in art therapy
  • Therapy (individual or family): One-on-one individual mental health therapy
  • Therapy (group): Mental health therapy in a group setting
  • Pet Therapy: Provided to members with behavioral health conditions and involves activities with trained animals
  • Massage Therapy: Massage of the soft body tissues to help injuries and reduce pain
  • Non-Emergency Transportation Services: Transportation to and from all medical appointments. Could be a bus, a van that can transport people with disabilities, a taxi or other kinds of vehicles
  • Free Standing Psychiatric Inpatient:  Short-term alternative to inpatient psychiatric hospitalization that provides brief intensive services for patients presenting in acute crisis
  • Crisis Stabilization Unit Services (CSU): Emergency mental health services performed in a facility that is not a regular hospital
  • Detoxification or Addiction Receiving Facility: Emergency substance use services performed in a facility that is not a regular hospital
  • Mobile Crisis Assessment and Intervention: Emergency mental health services provided in the home, community or school by a team of health care professionals
  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): Structured mental health treatment services provided in a hospital 4-6 hours each day for 5 days per week
  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP): Intensive outpatient treatment for alcohol or drug services and behavioral health treatment or services
  • Ambulatory Detoxification Services: Services without extended onsite monitoring provides clinical and medical management of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms (from alcohol and other drugs) on an outpatient basis in a community setting
  • Peer Support Services: Services that help those recovering from addiction or mental illness
  • Drop-In Center Services: A social club offering peer support and a flexible schedule of activities
  • Infant Mental Health Pre and Post Testing Services: Testing services by a mental health services professional with special training in infants and young children
  • Community Based Wraparound Services: Individualized care planning and care management service supporting children with complex needs at risk of placement in a mental health treatment facility
  • Short Term Residential Treatment: Short term residential treatment program for pregnant women with substance use disorder
  • Multi-Systemic Therapy: Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST) is an evidenced based practice of intensive treatment for troubled youth delivered in multiple settings. This program promotes pro-social behavior and reduces criminal activity, mental health symptomology, out-of-home placements and illicit substance use


  • Substance Use Health Coaching: Age 12 years and up. Complete 3 coaching sessions with a Care Manager in 3 months. Enrollment in Case Management and signed consent form are required. Earn $10. 
  • Post Behavioral Health Admission Follow up Visit: Earn rewards for attending an outpatient follow up appointment with a behavioral health provider within 7 days after being discharged from an inpatient facility. Earn $20. 

Learn more about Healthy Rewards.  


  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Established by Congress in 1991, it is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agency that leads public health efforts to address behavioral health through education, treatment and research.
  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline: Also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service, it is a free,  confidential 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year information service in English and Spanish. It is for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. Call 1-800-662-4357 anytime.
  • SAMSHA’s confidential, anonymous online tool to help people find treatment centers for mental and substance use disorders near them.
  • Department of Veterans Affairs Substance Use Disorder Program: Eligible veterans have several options for seeking treatment for substance use problems. These treatments address problems related to substance use, from unhealthy use of alcohol to life-threatening addictions. For more information, call 1-800-273-8255 Monday through Friday 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Eastern.
    Sunshine Health Community Resource Database: Find more free resources through Sunshine Health’s Community Resource Database. Enter your ZIP code to search for help with food, shelter, healthcare, money, school, jobs and more.
  • Sunshine Health offers Case Management for care coordination needs and support with the management of your condition.

Contact Member Services or your Care Manager to learn about programs such as:

  • HAPPY: 24/7 emotional support to address loneliness and social isolation.
  • Hazel Health: School-based telehealth program to improve access to both behavioral and medical care in schools.
  • Choose Tomorrow: Suicide Prevention Program.
  • METS: Members Empowered to Succeed, support recovery and resiliency.
  • Wellframe: Platform that offers educational programs suited to the member’s needs.


Call Member Services at 1-866-796-0530 (TTY 1-800-955-8770) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern.