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      Sober Nation

      Putting Recovery On The Map

      05-22-13 | By

      Signs of Substance Abuse

      What are the Signs of Substance Abuse?

      There is no definitive way to identify substance abuse. There isn’t a certain amount of substance use or official list of circumstances that signifies abuse. Substance use varies greatly between abusers. The main characteristic of substance abuse, however, is consequence.

      signs of substance abuse

      When a person is unable to stop using substances (drugs or alcohol) despite the negative consequences their use is causing in their life, they’re an abuser. Most people who use substances will stop when they begin to experience problems related to their use. The smaller portion of the population that can’t stop when problems arise are suffering from addiction.

      How can you recognize if you or someone you love is abusing substances? Here is a list of signs that may be present when substance use crosses over and becomes substance abuse.

      Physical Signs of Substance Abuse

      -Change in eating habits, unexplained appetite gain or loss, or unexplained weight gain or loss
      -Change in sleeping habits, unusual sleep schedule, insomnia, or increased need for sleep
      -Runny or stuffy nose
      -Persistent cough
      -Nausea or vomiting
      -Decline of personal hygiene, or change in grooming habits
      -Poor coordination, stumbling, or staggering
      -Very large or very small pupils
      -Watery, red, or puffy eyes
      -Pale or flushed face
      -Tremors or shaky hands
      -Needle-like marks on arms, feet, neck, hands, or elsewhere
      -Excessive talking or slurred speech
      -Hyperactivity or fatigue
      -Smell of alcohol or drugs, or bad body odor
      -Cold hands or sweaty palms
      -Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
      -Increased or unexplained health problems or injuries

      Behavioral Signs of Substance Abuse

      -Change in attitude or personality, or extreme mood swings
      -Depression, nervousness, anxiety, or paranoia
      -Lack of motivation
      -Irritability or extreme temper
      -Uncontrolled laughter or giddiness
      -Loss of interest or abandonment of recreational activities or hobbies
      -Change in social habits or friends
      -Missing school or work
      -Dropping grades or declining work productivity
      -Increase in risk-taking or risky behavior
      -Stealing money or belongings
      -Unexplained money problems
      -Sudden relationship problems
      -Legal problems related to substance use
      -Acting offended, angry, defensive, or panicked
      -Social withdrawal or isolation
      -Possessing drug paraphernalia or empty alcohol containers

      Substance Use Signs

      -Increased tolerance for substances
      -Inability to control substance use
      -Repeated failed attempts to limit or quit substance use
      -Legal, financial, relationship, or work problems related to substance use
      -Use of substances in risky situations
      -Risky behavior while using substances
      -Using substances to cope with stress, relax, or feel good
      -Using substances alone or in secret
      -Hiding the presence of substances or having stashes in unusual places
      -Obsessive thoughts about using or using compulsively
      -Cravings for substances
      -Revolving schedule or social activities around substance use
      -Health problems or injuries related to substance use
      -Feeling upset, disappointed, or agitated when unable to use substances

      A person who is abusing substances might display just a few or many of these signs. They may also display unusual physical or behavioral signs that aren’t listed here. Remember that the biggest indicators of substance abuse are sudden, unexplained changes (physically or behaviorally) and the failure to stop using substances when problems result.


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