Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Screening
The CAGE-AID questionnaire is a simple test that checks for signs of alcohol dependence. It can be a useful tool that only requires a minute or two of time.
Substance use disorder is a condition that affects the health and well-being of millions of Americans. It is characterized by recurrent use of alcohol and/or other drugs to the point of causing impairment in daily life, including difficulty meeting responsibilities at work or school and problems maintaining healthy social relationships.
Substance use disorder is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than you’re meant to
- Wanting to cut down or stop using but being unable to do so
- A lot of time spent obtaining, using, or recovering from using the substance
- Cravings and urges to use the substance
- Failing to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home due to use of the substance
- Skipping or giving up activities you once enjoyed because of substance use
- Continuing to use the substance even when it causes problems in relationships with other people
- Continuing to use the substance despite physical or mental health problems caused or worsened by substance use
- Using the substance repeatedly even when it is physically dangerous to do so, like while driving or operating machinery
- Needing more of the substance to get the effect you want from it (tolerance)
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after stopping use, such as anxiety, tremors, or nausea
Severity of substance use disorder is defined by the number of the above symptoms present:
- Mild = 2–3 symptoms
- Moderate = 4–5 symptoms
- Severe = 6+
Alcohol use disorder is the most common substance use disorder, affecting over 14 million American adults or about 6% of the population. Alcohol can affect people in different ways, but excessive drinking puts a person at risk for serious health problems, including brain and liver damage, heart disease, and hypertension. This disorder affects men who drink five or more drinks at a time and women who drink four or more drinks at a time. Any amount of alcohol consumed during pregnancy can result in damage to the fetus.
Illicit drug use refers to the use of illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, marijuana, or other “street drugs.” People often use these drugs recreationally or in an effort to feel better, but it is impossible to know exactly what you are putting into your body when using illicit drugs. These substances are always dangerous and can lead to serious health problems or even death. Illicit drugs can also lead to dependence or addiction, where someone develops a physiological or psychological need for the substance. Once someone is addicted, it can be extremely difficult to stop using the substance; however, help is available to quit.
If you or someone you know is using illicit substances, please reach out for help by calling the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 (TTY 1-800-487-4889). You can also speak with a Blue Shield care manager for help finding the resources you need by calling 1-877-878-8785, option 2.
Prescription Drug Abuse
Substance use disorders involving prescriptions drugs are serious and a growing public health concern in the United States. Misusing or intentionally abusing medications that are prescribed by a doctor is dangerous and can lead to addiction, various health problems, and even overdose or death. Medications such as prescription opioids for pain, benzodiazepines for anxiety, or stimulant medication for ADHD are some of the most commonly abused prescription medications. It is extremely important to take medication exactly as prescribed and avoid taking more than what your doctor tells you to take.
- One of the leading causes of prescription drug abuse is when family or friends in a household use medications that are prescribed to someone else in the home. Always monitor the medications in your home, including any over-the-counter drugs. Lock up medications when necessary to ensure no one else in your home can access them.
- Download the Medicine Cabinet Inventory Chart
Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Management Program
The SUD management program strives to improve the quality of life for members with a substance use disorder. The program connects you with a specialized care manager who provides education, helps identify and overcome barriers to care, links you to providers when needed, and supports the treatment plan laid out by your healthcare provider.
Who would benefit from this program? Members who:
- Have any of the substance use disorder symptoms noted above
- Have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder
- Have recently been hospitalized related to alcohol or other drug use
- Are using alcohol or other drugs that are impacting other medical conditions
- Want to connect with a behavioral health provider but need help navigating the system or need additional support
If you or a loved one suffer from substance abuse, get the support you need. Visit the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Association for:
Medication and Counseling
Opioid Treatment Directory
Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator
Buprenorphine Treatment Practitioner Locator
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Call: 1-877-HOPENY (846-7369)
Let's Talk Stigma
Many people suffer from a mental health diagnosis in silence because of the discrimination that goes along with it. Let's Talk Stigma is starting a conversation to end the stigma surrounding mental illness