Not all substance abusers develop dependence or addiction, but continued substance abuse is a major risk factor leading to dependence.  Sometimes dependence develops suddenly in response to a genetic predisposition from a family history of addiction/alcoholism or due to a stressful change, such as a breakup, or another loss.  Other times, it gradually creeps up on you as your tolerance to alcohol and/or drugs increases.  If a person is a binge drinker or drinks every day, the risks of developing alcoholism are even greater.

Signs and symptoms of substance abuse:

  1. Tolerance: 

Tolerance means that, over time, you need more alcohol or drugs to feel the same effect.  Do you drink/use more than you used to?  Do you drink more than other people without showing obvious signs of intoxication?

  1. Withdrawal: 

As the effect of the alcohol or drugs wears off you may experience withdrawal symptoms:  anxiety or jumpiness; shakiness or trembling; sweating, nausea and vomiting, insomnia, depression, irritability, fatigue or loss of appetite and headaches.  Do you drink or use to steady the nerves, stop the shakes in the morning?  Drinking or using to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms is a sign of alcoholism and addiction.

In severe cases, withdrawal from alcohol can be life-threatening and involve hallucinations, confusion, seizures, fever, and agitation.  These symptoms can be dangerous and should be managed by a physician specifically trained and experienced in dealing with alcoholism and addiction.

  1. Loss of Control:

Drinking or using more than you wanted to, for longer than you intended, or despite telling yourself that you wouldn’t do it this time.

  1. Desire to Stop-  But Can’t:

You have a persistent desire to cut down or stop your alcohol or drug use, but all efforts to stop and stay stopped, have been unsuccessful.

  1. Neglecting Other Activities:

You are spending less time on activities that used to be important to you (hanging out with family and friends, exercising- going to the gym, pursuing your hobbies or other interests) because of the use of alcohol.

  1. Alcohol/Drugs Takes Up Greater Time, Energy and Focus:

You spend a lot of time drinking or using, thinking about it, or recovering from its effects.  You have few, if any, interests, social or community involvements that don’t revolve around the use of alcohol.

  1. Continued Use Despite Negative Consequences:

You drink or use even though they know it’s causing problems. You realize your use is damaging relationships and your academic success, but you continue to use.

 

Take these confidential self-tests to evaluate your relationship with alcohol and other drugs:

(alcohol)  https://ncadd.org/learn-about-alcohol/alcohol-abuse-self-test

(other drugs)  https://ncadd.org/learn-about-drugs/drug-abuse-self-test

 

Sent on: Apr 9, 2015