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The goal of treatment is to improve social functioning through complete abstinence of alcohol and drugs for individuals diagnosed with chemical dependency. Treatment is the use of any planned, intentional intervention in the health, behavior, personal and/or family life of an individual suffering from alcoholism or from another drug dependency.  The goal of treatment is to enable the individual to achieve and maintain sobriety, physical and mental health, and a maximum functional ability.


Treatment therapies are linked to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, IV-Text Revision (DSM-IV TR) under the diagnosis of Substance Use Disorder. The diagnosis describes a continuum of progressive escalation that begins with Substance Use, progresses to Substance Abuse, and may conclude with Substance Dependence.

Substance Use Disorder

Persons who are diagnosed with substance abuse (also referred to as misuse or harmful use), or substance dependence, begins with an initial episode of substance use. Use of a substance does not equal a substance use disorder even though it may be unwise and strongly disapproved of by family, friends, employers, religious groups, or society at large.

Substance use is not considered a medical disorder. For a medical disorder to be present, substance use must occur more frequently; occur at high doses; or result in a multiple problems.

The term substance abuse or substance misuse is sometimes used to refer to any substance use by adolescents because their use of substances is illegal and poses developmental and physical risks associated with substance use at an early age.

Substance Use Disorders are separated into two categories:

  • Substance Abuse (may also be referred to as misuse)
  • Substance Dependence

Substance Abuse/Misuse

The DSM-IV TR defines substance abuse as problematic use without compulsive use, significant tolerance, or withdrawal. A diagnosis for substance abuse is made when one or more of the following occur within a 12-month period:

  • Repeated substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill life obligations (work, home, school)
  • Repeated substance use in situations that are physically hazardous
  • Substance-use related legal problems
  • Substance use despite having persistent or repeated social or interpersonal problems.

Related substance abuse treatment services include but are not limited to:

  • Alcohol Drug Information School
  • Outpatient treatment

Substance Dependence (also referred to as Chemical Dependency)

Substance dependence is defined in DSM-IVTR as involving compulsive use, with or without tolerance and withdrawal. A diagnosis for substance dependence is made when three or more of the following occur within a 12-month period:

  • Tolerance, withdrawal, use in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended
  • Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down
  • Great deal of time spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance
  • Reduction in social, occupational, or recreational activities because of substance use
  • Substance use continues despite knowledge of problems.

Related treatment services for individuals diagnosed with substance dependence disorder include but are not limited to:

  • Detoxification service
  • Outpatient treatment/intensive outpatient treatment
  • Intensive inpatient treatment
  • Recovery House services
  • Opiate substitution treatment.

Assisting the individual to establish the recovery process is the goal of treatment.

Contact Us

Phone 206-263-9000

TTY Relay: 711

Fax: 206-296-0583