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The Effects of Substance Use Disorder and Co-Occurring Disorder

What are Substance Use Disorder and Co-Occurring Disorder?

Substance use disorder (SUD) is an issue affecting millions of individuals globally. It not only impacts the person struggling with addiction but also has far-reaching consequences for their family and communities. To comprehend the depth of the challenge, it is essential to explore the co-occurring disorders that often accompany SUD. Understanding the unique challenges faced by children living with parents who have SUD sheds light on the need for a comprehensive approach to address these intertwined issues.

The Impact on Children Living with Parents who Struggle with Substance Use Disorder

Children growing up in households where a parent struggles with substance use disorder face a multitude of challenges. The emotional and psychological toll on these young minds can profoundly impact their overall well-being and future development. Here are some key aspects to consider,

  • Emotional Turmoil

Living in an environment where substance use is prevalent can lead to heightened stress and anxiety for children. The unpredictability and instability associated with SUD create an atmosphere of emotional turmoil, making it difficult for children to establish a sense of security.

  • Isolation

Children of parents with substance use disorder often face social stigma and isolation. The shame associated with their family situation can result in feeling embarrassed, affecting their self-esteem and interpersonal relationships.

  • Increased risk of Substance Abuse

Growing up in an environment where substance use is normalized increases the likelihood of children developing substance use disorders themselves. The lack of positive role models and a supportive family structure further compound the risk.

  • Disruption of Daily Life

Substance use disorder can disrupt the day-to-day lives of families. Neglect, financial strain, and potential legal issues further exacerbate the challenges faced by children living with a parent struggling with addiction.

Criteria for Substance Use Disorder

To diagnose substance use disorder accurately, mental health professionals rely on specific criteria outlined in the diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders (DSM-5). Individuals exhibiting a certain number of these criteria within a 12-month period may be diagnosed with SUD. The criteria include;

  • Impaired Control

Individuals with SCD often find it challenging to control their substance use, leading to consumption in larger amounts or for a more extended period of time.

  • Social Impairment

Substance use can significantly impact social relationships and functioning. A person with ASD may withdraw from social activities, experience conflicts with family or friends, or struggle to fulfill work or school responsibilities.

  • Risky Use

Continued substance use despite awareness of associated risks is a key curation for SU D. This includes situations where individuals put themselves or others in danger due to substance use.

  • Tolerance

Over time, individuals who struggle may develop a tolerance to the substance, requiring larger amounts to achieve the desired effect. This can contribute to a cycle of escalating use.

  • Withdrawal

Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when substance use is reduced or discontinued is another indicator of a disorder. These symptoms can be physical or psychological and vary depending on the substance and prior dependency.

  • Neglect of other Activities

Individuals who struggle often prioritize substance use over other essential activities, such as work, school, or recreational pursuits. This neglect can lead to a decline in overall well-being and sense of purpose.

NorthStar Regional Treatment and Counseling

We understand how life can become difficult and complex. And how, in a world of addiction and substance abuse, it often feels very difficult to get better. We at NorthStar are here to help you battle and fight against addiction. If your child has been affected by the choices of a parent or guardian and needs counseling, we offer extensive and helpful counseling for children affected by parents with SUD.

Our intensive co-occurring treatment is an intensive form of substance abuse rehabilitation. Clients will visit our treatment center(s) several days a week for a few hours at a time. Intensive outpatient programs meet on weekdays in the morning and evening. Programs consist of group therapy and individual counseling.

We are committed to supporting and promoting mental health care as a critical part of overall addiction treatment. Individuals who have a substance use disorder, as well as a mental health disorder, are diagnosed as having co-occurring disorders. This is also sometimes called a dual diagnosis. Each client in our co-occurring disorders intensive outpatient program (IOP) will be treated holistically, addressing substance use, mental health, and medical topics at the same time in the same place with the same staff. This approach allows us to achieve the best treatment outcomes.


Addressing substance use disorder is a complex process that requires A multifaceted approach. Understanding the criteria for substance use disorder helps identify individuals in need of intervention while acknowledging the challenges faced by children in homes affected by addiction highlights the importance of providing support and resources for families. By approaching substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders with empathy, education, and comprehensive treatment strategies, we can work towards fostering healthier communities and brighter futures for those affected by these pervasive issues.

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