Addiction to alcohol and prescription or other drugs is a chronic disease that affects an individual’s brain and behavior. Addiction is not caused from a lack of moral convictions or willpower. It is caused by factors such as:

  • Genetics (which account for about half of a person’s risk for addiction)
  • Environmental influences (e.g. economic factors, peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse) and
  • Developmental factors (e.g. age that drug or alcohol use begins)


Addictions range from mild to severe and depend on the individual. Drug/alcohol addiction is characterized by uncontrollable (compulsive) seeking and use of the substance, even if it causes harmful consequences to the individual or the people around them. Addiction typically begins with the voluntary act of using drugs/drinking. But over time, the ability to choose not to use a substance becomes more difficult and substance use becomes more compulsive. Addiction causes changes in the brain that can make the process of quitting more difficult. Addictive substances affect parts of the brain involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and control over behavior. Addiction can cause changes in a person’s mood, habits, and actions. This includes physical changes, social changes, and behavioral changes.


Individuals who take an active role in their treatment can be very successful in their recovery. Effective treatments are available, and do work. Treatment typically starts with a comprehensive evaluation. From there, an individualized treatment plan is developed, based on the unique needs of the individual.

Treatment options may include:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Outpatient detoxification, when safe
  • Psychiatric treatment
  • Medication-assisted therapy
  • Intensive outpatient therapy

For many individuals, addiction is a relapsing disease. For example, a person could be drug and alcohol free (in recovery) for a long period of time, and can still experience a relapse. This is why the medical community considers addiction to be a chronic disease — and is why ongoing treatment is recommended.

Supportive family members and friends are encouraged to participate in the recovery process. Substance use affects everyone, and therapy options for couples, families, and children are available and are encouraged.

At the University of Michigan, we are committed to achieving positive outcomes through outstanding care for people who struggle with substance use. We treat individuals who are experiencing problems with prescription medications, alcohol, and other drugs. Our treatments are supported by research and the wisdom of recovering individuals, and are delivered with compassion, hope, and respect for diversity. We will work closely with you to help identify your needs and strengths and develop a plan for recovery that you can work towards.

Substance Use and Mental Health

Many of our patients who struggle with addiction also suffer from symptoms of depression and anxiety. As part of Michigan Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry, we provide on-site psychiatric consultation, when needed. We will also work with your existing psychiatrist or therapist to coordinate your care.

University of Michigan Addiction Treatment Services (UMATS)

Outpatient and intensive outpatient treatment services are available through University of Michigan Addiction Treatment Services (UMATS). UMATS offers assessment, diagnosis, and treatment personalized for individuals and their families. Referrals and coordination with inpatient treatment services are available for individuals with more severe needs. For more information about UMATS, visit the Treatment page of the UMATs website.

Find Us

We are located at the beautiful Rachel Upjohn Building at University of Michigan’s East Medical Campus.

Department of Psychiatry
Rachel Upjohn Building
4250 Plymouth Road
Ann Arbor, Ml 48109-2700


Many health insurance companies will cover services offered through UMATS. Please contact your insurance company for more specific coverage information.

Make an Appointment

To schedule an appointment or make a referral, please call the Department of Psychiatry’s appointment line toll free:
1-800-525-5188 or 734-764-0231