Substance Use - Mental Health
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Mental Health


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Substance Use

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Substance Use

Are you concerned about yourself or about a Veteran in a substance use-related crisis?

Get support anytime day or night

If you see someone showing symptoms of overdose or who is in immediate danger, dial 911.

If you're worried that you or a loved one is at risk of overdosing, it's important that you talk to a specialist right away. The following resources offer free, confidential support, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

  • Veterans Crisis Line
  • The SAMHSA National Helpline offers confidential, free help from public health agencies that can point you to substance use treatment and information.

Substance use disorders and the COVID-19 pandemic

View resources to help

Overcoming substance use disorder or a related condition requires being an active participant in your own treatment. That's especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought new challenges in managing recovery. Learn how to increase your ability to cope here.


Alcohol and other drugs are often used in response to stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. Despite the temporary relief a substance may seem to provide, increased substance use can lead to long-term consequences.

What Is Substance Use Disorder (SUD)?

Often referred to as "addiction," substance use disorder (SUD) is a disease that causes people to have difficulty controlling their use of alcohol, drugs, and other substances, including opioids. Untreated, this misuse can begin to influence many aspects of life.

Signs and Symptoms of SUD

  • Increased urge to drink or to use drugs.
  • Inability to stop drinking or using drugs, despite negative consequences.
  • Change in relationships due to drinking or drug use.
  • Feeling depressed or anxious about your substance use.
  • Feeling sick and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when drinking or drug use stops.
  • Increased tolerance, which refers to the need over time for more alcohol or stronger drugs to achieve the desired effect.

Fortunately, there are many ways to recover from alcohol or drug use disorders. Take the next step and learn about the many VA treatments available, including in- and outpatient care, medications, support groups, specialized therapy, and more.

Screening for SUD

VA has developed a brief questionnaire to help Veterans identify possible signs or symptoms of a substance use disorder. Your results will be completely confidential, and the results will not be stored or sent anywhere — this self-assessment is simply to help you. You will have the option to print a copy of the results, either for your own records or to share with your physician or a mental health professional. If you think you may be showing symptoms of SUD, consider taking VA's brief, anonymous questionnaire.

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