How to Spot Substance Abuse and Addiction

Do you think that someone you know may be suffering from drug abuse or addiction? There are some easy ways to spot substance abuse and addiction but the tell-tale signs are not always forthcoming.

This has much to do with the level or severity of the substance abuse, the presence (or absence) of addiction, the individual him or herself and other factors. Some of the signs of substance abuse or addiction may be easy to recognize and others, not so much. Here’s a look at some of the ways that you can spot a substance abuse problem and how you can tell if it has progressed to a more serious form of abuse known as addiction.

Signs of Substance Abuse

The early warning signs of substance abuse include:

  • Neglecting responsibilities such as school work, homework, employment related tasks or family
  • Using drugs under conditions that you would otherwise consider to be dangerous such as while you are driving
  • Taking part in risky behaviors while under the influence such as promiscuous activity, unprotected sex, or using shared needles
  • Legal problems resulting from drug abuse such as DUI, public intoxication or theft charges
  • Relationship troubles pertaining to your drug abuse such as fighting with a loved one, treating children poorly, having problems with other members of the family or having problems with co-workers or a boss at work
  • As time progresses, and the substance abuse turns more toward a problem with addiction, greater problems are likely to set in.

Signs of Drug Addiction

The common signs of addiction include:

  • Developing a tolerance to the substance which requires more of the drug to be used in order to provide the same effects
  • Using drugs to avoid withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sweating, shaking or psychological problems such as anxiety or depression
  • A lack of control over drug use, saying you will only use x-amount and then going beyond that limitation or lying to others about your drug use
  • Spending each day with an attitude that revolves around getting high, finding the next fix or otherwise using drugs
  • Using drugs despite the known consequences and problems that the drug use is causing for yourself, your relationships, your working career and other factors in your life

Substance abuse and addiction are slightly different but one does lead to the other. Even short-term substance abuse can and will often lead to addiction which is both more dangerous and more difficult to treat.

If you suspect that someone you know is suffering from a substance abuse problem and needs help, it’s important to confront them early on and do whatever it takes to help him or her get well. Once physical tolerance and addiction have taken hold, the treatment and recovery process will be much more consuming than it is in the early stages when substance abuse and addiction have not yet met eye-to-eye.


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