Definitions of Addiction and Substance Use Disorder

“Addiction is a complex disease of the brain and body that involves compulsive use of one or more substances despite serious health and social consequences. Addiction disrupts regions of the brain that are responsible for reward, motivation, learning, judgment and memory. It damages various body systems as well as families, relationships, schools, workplaces and neighborhoods.”
– The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse

“Addiction exists wherever persons are internally compelled to give energy to things that are not their true desires. To define it directly, addiction is a state of compulsion, obsession, or preoccupation that enslaves a person’s will and desire. Addiction sidetracks and eclipses the energy of our deepest, truest desire for love and goodness. We succumb because the energy of our desire becomes attached, nailed, to specific behaviors, objects, or people. Attachment, then, is the process that enslaves desire and creates the state of addiction.”
– Addiction and Grace, Gerald G. May

Do I have the disease of addiction?

Often by the time we begin to question our behaviors around substance use, it is already too late. The disease of addiction is “cunning, baffling and powerful” as described in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. While we may question our own behavior in isolation it is always important to seek the expertise of an addiction trained professional. At Lehigh Valley Counselors, our counselors are experienced, trained and certified in addiction and recovery treatment. Beginning to examine our lifestyle, motivations, family of origin issues, and use of substances will lead to a more accurate definition of whether a client has a substance use disorder or not. While no self-analysis test is definite there are several simple questions that answered honestly will guide the decision-making process around seeking professional help.

  • Have you ever felt that you ought to cut down on your drinking or drug use?
  • Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking or drug use?
  • Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking or drug use?
  • Have you ever had a drink or used first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?

– Cage-Aid Questionnaire

Answering yes to even one of the above questions may indicate a substance use disorder or addiction.

What do I do Now?

Seeking the support and help of a professional in the field is important at this point. A Lehigh Valley Counselors counselor will assist in an assessment of your use of substances and life style around the substance. It is important to remember at this point the support of others is critically important as addiction is a disease of isolation. Your counselor will, through assessment define two areas to examine. The first is your defined stage of change followed by the appropriate level of care:

Stages of Change

  • Precontemplation – I know I have a problem with substances but am in denial or am unwilling to change
  • Contemplation – I have an awareness of my problem and am on the fence about getting help. Some days I know I should reach out for help and others I use and isolate.
  • Preparation – I have a clear awareness of a problem and am willing to do anything to make a change and to reach out for help.
  • Action – I made the decision sought help and am following the advice of professionals in supporting healthy recovery behaviors.
  • Maintenance – I have integrated recovery and sobriety into my life. My lifestyle is now one of honesty, openness, and willingness around maintaining my sobriety and recovery.

– Prochaska, Stages of Change

Having defined your willingness to change and amount of substance use your counselor will recommend possible treatment levels of care and possible referral to other inpatient treatment providers if necessary:


  • to support your understanding of the disease of addiction and to head off any deeper use and lifestyle hurdles.

General Outpatient

  • Weekly counseling sessions to understand your style of use and how best to support your treatment to lead to recovery and to

Intensive Outpatient

  • Group meetings with others who are in a like situation seeking recovery from substance use. The groups meet three times a week for two hours a day counselor will guide the group and will also offer weekly individual sessions.
  • This is a referral to other providers who Lehigh Valley Counselors works with.

Other more intensive levels of care may be required and will be discussed if necessary with our clinicians. Withdrawal from some substances may be extremely dangerous and must be dealt with my medical professionals in an inpatient setting.

There is hope and there is treatment for addiction!

At Lehigh Valley Counselors we are here to help. We can provide the support you need to overcome addiction and find recovery and sobriety in your life. Our certified substance abuse counselors understand addictive behaviors. We know the challenges that are faced by the person isolating in addiction. There is hope and there is a way to become the healthy, interactive hopeful person you used to be. Often you can be seen within 24 hours. Call to schedule your appointment with a certified substance abuse counselor at Lehigh Valley Counselors today. 610-596-4222

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