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Substance Misuse

According to the American Public Health Association substance misuse is the use of all illegal drugs, but also includes the misuse of legal substances like prescription drugs and overindulging of alcohol/tobacco.   

Alcohol Misuse

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes alcohol misuse as a pattern of drinking that results in harm to one's health, interpersonal relations or ability to work.  This includes heavy drinking and binge drinking.  It can lead to alcohol dependence or alcohol addiction, a chronic disease associated with withdrawal symptoms, loss of control and alcohol tolerance.  According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) it is It is estimated that more than 140,000 people (approximately 97,000 men and 43,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the fourth-leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

When does Misuse Become Addiction (Substance Use Disorder)

Per the Mayo Clinic, drug addiction or substance use disorder is is a disease that affects a person's brain and behavior and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medicine.  It is important to note that the risk of addiction varies from substance to substance but typically with prolonged use, a person's body develops a tolerance and larger doses and or increased frequency of the substance is necessary to achieve the same sensation. This eventually leads to the inability to function without the substance.  This can affect a person's behavior, mood and at times being without the substance makes the individual physically ill.

The Impacts of Alcohol & Substance Misuse

Unfortunately, substance use is an increasing concern in the United States.  Misuse and addiction to legal substances like prescription drugs has increased over the years.  According to Purdue Global, 97,516 overdose deaths were reported between 2020 and 2021.  The number of reported overdoses have surpassed 100,000 after 2021.  Increased popularity of fentanyl has been a large contributing factor to the steep increase in reported overdoses. 

Alcohol, another legal substance, is widely misused.  According to data collected from the CDC, there are approximately 79,000 deaths attributable to excessive alcohol use annually in the United States.  This does not include the increased risk of adverse health outcomes like motor vehicle accidents, violence, liver disease, and heart disease to name a few.  Per the CDC, nondependent drinkers who misuse alcohol account for the majority of alcohol-related disability and death.  

Mental Health & Substance Use

Studies have found a correlation between mental health and substance abuse.  According to a study by the National Institute of Mental Health,  many individuals who develop substance use disorders are also diagnosed with mental disorders, and vice versa.  The study has found three potential reasons for this concurrence: common risk factors, the individual is has a mental disorder and is self medicating with substances, or chronic substance use can contribute to the development of a mental disorder. 

Prevention, Early Intervention, Treatment & Recovery

Education and awareness is the first line of defense in preventing alcohol and substance misuse/use disorder.  Many of these program specifically target youth.  According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, adolescence is a time of rapid, complex brain development and alcohol and other substances can have lasting harmful affects on their development.  Awareness early on can also adversely affect the habits adolescence take into adulthood.  Education and awareness also can help with early intervention.  Knowing the signs or understanding patterns of misuse and seeking treatment can potentially lessen the harmful affects. 

Addiction is a treatable disorder.  Many treatment programs are now available for helping with recovering from all different substances.  Research on how substances affect the brain have lead to breakthroughs in behavioral therapies and medication.  Selecting a treatment option is very individualized.  What will be successful for one person may not work for another.  Services are dedicated to helping individuals find a program that best suits there situation.  Because the effects of addiction are widespread, there are services/agencies who focus on helping those supporting a loved with struggling with addiction or are in recovery. 

Remember that recovery starts with asking for help. 

Resources & Services

beatit! Employee Assistance Program

Website :
Call: 1-800-828-3939

Available 24/7


Beatit! is an employee assistance program available to UA Local 393 members and in most cases these services are covered under your healthcare plan.  The program assists individuals with alcohol and substance misuse/abuse.  They can provide advice, brief counseling along with referrals to different treatment programs.  They have an extensive network of qualified and vetted treatment facilities, programs, counselors and professionals that specialize in alcohol and substance misuse/abuse.  All beatit! personnel, their affiliates/providers and staff are bound by strict federal confidentiality statues and cannot release any information without the individual's written consent (HIPPA Verified).   

What to Expect

The hotline is available 24/7, though wait time is determined upon call volume.  If there are no service representative available, you will be prompted to leave a call back number.  Expect a call back within the hour.   Once you are connected with a client service representative they will ask you a few intake questions to get an understanding of your situation.  They will share with you the different treatment options available so that you can make an informed decision on next steps.  Intake into one of their affiliated treatment facilities can happen quickly, within a few days.


County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services 

Substance Use Services

Website :
Call: 1-800-704-0900

Available 24/7


The County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services Substance Use Services can help individuals find a substance abuse treatment program.  This service is available to all Santa Clara residents.  With the diversity of the community in mind, services are available in five main languages: English, Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and Tagalog.  The Substance Use Services website has many informative resources on addiction, treatment and prevention.  Treatment services are currently available for adults but Santa Clara County is working on a Substance Use and Co-Occurring Treatment Youth System of Care Provider List.  You can find resources specific for youth and young adults at their page Youth Substance Use Treatment Services.

What to Expect

When calling 1-800-704-0900 you will be connected to a representative.  You will be asked several intake questions.  These questions help the representative find the appropriate treatment services.  The representative will go over in detail the different services and can set up an appointment at that facility or provide you with walk in times. 


These services are available regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.  If the individual seeking treatment does not have insurance, a sliding-fee scale option is available.  Because the youth treatment services is in progress, if you are a youth seeking treatment or a loved one seeking treatment for a  youth or young adult, just let the representative know during the intake process.  If you do not have access to transportation to get to treatment.  Let the representative know because some service providers can assist with transportation. 

Learn More

County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services

"The Behavioral Health Call Center is the entry point for access to all Santa Clara County behavioral health services. We provide support for individuals and families who are in crisis; considering suicide; or struggling with mental illness, substance use, or both."

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services whose focus is on behavioral health. 

SAMHSA helpline 1-800-622-HELP (4357) available 24/7 to help assist with finding a treatment program.

Alcoholics Anonymous

"Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of people who come together to solve their drinking problem.  It doesn’t cost anything to attend A.A. meetings. There are no age or education requirements to participate. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about their drinking problem."

Support for Those Supporting Others

Resources for those helping a loved one struggling with addiction or who are in recovery. 

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