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What Is Drug and Alcohol Addiction?

Drug and alcohol addiction, or substance use disorder, is a complex, chronic disease characterized by compulsive substance seeking, despite the harmful consequences. It affects both the mind and the body. After continued use, the chemistry of the brain and body change significantly, making it difficult to stop using drugs or alcohol.

What Are the Signs of Drug and Alcohol Addiction?

  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Disinterest or poor performance in school or work
  • Random bursts of energy or fatigue
  • Social isolation or new secretive relationships
  • Neglecting family or close friends
  • Poor physical appearance or hygiene
  • Financial or legal issues

Steps to Help Your Family Member or Friend

Educate Yourself

Learn more about addiction and the effects of specific drugs or alcohol. Visit our What We Treat pages to find more information on specific substances.

Observe their Behavior

Observe their behavior for a few days or weeks to understand why you think they have a problem. This information will be useful when you talk with other family members, professionals, and your friend/family member about their addiction.

Share Your Observations with Family Members

Share your observations to get a different perspective. This helps you understand if there really seems to be a problem.

Ensure Safety and Set Limits

Protect yourself and those around you from physical harm. Call the police if there is danger of violence.

Set limits to protect your home, finances, and relationships. Avoid enabling behavior, such as providing financial help.

Contact a Substance Abuse Professional

Call us to speak with a substance abuse professional. Our phone line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Describe your observations, what type of substance is being abused, how long the use has been going on, the negative consequences from use, and how they respond to conversations about drugs and alcohol.

Steps to Initiate a Conversation About Substance Abuse

  1. Ask if you can set up a time to speak in the next few days about something on your mind.
  2. When you meet, ask them how they have been feeling lately. Make sure to express that you care about their wellbeing.
  3. List the behaviors you observed, and state that you are worried about the effects of continued substance use.
  4. Let them know you’ve done research, and you have a clear treatment plan ready for them. For example, “I found a great residential detox and rehab facility in Santa Clarita.”
  5. Call us if you need help from an intervention specialist.

What to Avoid

  • Avoid having conversations about substance abuse when you, your friend, or your family member is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Avoid speculating, exploring motives, or judging.
  • Stay calm, and avoid anger or shaming.
  • Avoid making bargains to allow continued substance use.

What are the Causes of Drug and Alcohol Addiction


Usually, someone experiments with drugs or alcohol because of their environment. Peer pressure from friends in college may lead to the first drink of alcohol or the first puff of a marijuana joint. This later turns into a ritual activity in circles of friends, and the addiction starts to form.

It is essential to have the correct, supporting environment during and after recovery for higher chances of continued sobriety.

Trauma or Mental Illness

Drugs and alcohol disconnect the mind and body from the current state of reality. When someone is battling with a mental illness, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, or ADHD, using substances seem to help cope with anxiety, depression, and loneliness. In reality, it makes these problems worse.

Trauma and mental illness can not be cured by drugs. It is important to address the root cause of substance abuse, mental unease. This is why we have a therapist and counselors on site every day to help our patients work through trauma and mental illnesses.


If a blood relative, such as a parent or sibling, has addiction problems, it is more likely that the children will develop drug or alcohol addictions as well.

What Are the Effects of Drugs and Alcohol on the Brain

Drugs and alcohol affect the “reward circuit” in the brain, flooding it with dopamine and causing euphoria. These changes cause dependencies that make it difficult for anyone to stop using even if there is a strong desire to quit.

Some of the functions affected by drug and alcohol addiction include:

  • Learning
  • Judgment
  • Decision making
  • Stress
  • Memory
  • Behavior

What Are the Effects of Drugs and Alcohol on the Body

  • Weakened immune system, increasing the risk of infection or illness
  • Heart conditions, including abnormal heart rates and heart attacks
  • Nausea and weight loss
  • Liver damage
  • Lung disease
  • Seizures and strokes

Drug and Alcohol Tolerance & Overdose

After an extended period of substance abuse, the brain develops a tolerance. This means that more of the substance is needed to feel the same euphoria, making overdose a possibility. It is important to seek help before this happens.

Dangers of Detoxing at Home

Quitting drugs and alcohol alone is not easy, and is it potentially lethal if done without medical help. That is why we offer a medically monitored detox program with Medication Assisted Treatments (MAT) to help battle withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol or Benzodiazepine (Xanax)

Completely cutting out alcohol or benzodiazepines, like xanax, can cause seizures and death.

Opioids and Pain Relievers

Suddenly cutting opioids will cause extreme muscle and bone pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and cold flashes.


Even if someone quits for a short period of time, the chances of relapse are high. This is why it is important to have continued support and treatment plans, even after stopping drug or alcohol use. After our detox and residential programs, we create an aftercare plan for each of our patients.

Call Us to Speak With Our Admissions Coordinator
Call Now 1-661-536-5562

Help For a Loved One FAQ

Can you help us with an intervention?

Yes, we can give you guidance and answer any questions you have. We can also provide you with an intervention specialist to help with the whole process, including the intervention itself.

How soon can my family member or friend be admitted to your facility?

Usually, they can be admitted immediately. As soon as we verify their insurance benefits or private pay method, they may be admitted. If you call at night, they may need to wait until the next morning.

Do you take medi-cal?

Currently, we do not accept medi-cal.

If we don’t have insurance, how much does detox and residential treatment cost out of pocket?

If you do not have insurance, we can arrange a private payment method for you. Usually, detox and residential treatment programs cost about $1,000 per day. Call us to discuss private payment options.

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Healthy Living’s Residential Rehab in Santa Clarita CA is fully licensed by DHCS and accredited by JCAHO as a detox and residential treatment center owned and operated by highly experienced, board-certified doctors – specialists in their respective fields, as well as, certified counselors and licensed therapists.

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Many of us staff members have journeyed the same road as our clients and have dealt with the devastating effects of addiction and trauma.
Call Us Now: 1-661-536-5562