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Mental Health

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Substance Use

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Substance Use

Are you a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one?

To connect with a Veterans Crisis Line responder anytime day or night:


Substance use can be a slippery slope, especially for those facing other challenges, including mental health concerns or life stressors. For instance, when people are stressed, anxious, depressed, or overwhelmed, they may be more likely to have trouble controlling alcohol and drug use. Despite the temporary relief a substance may seem to provide, increased substance use can lead to harmful 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.
  • Drinking or using drugs in hazardous situations (e.g., drinking and driving).
  • Change in relationships due to drinking or drug 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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