A person who is engaging in substance use and especially falling into substance abuse will display certain signs and symptoms. These signs of substance abuse are visible to those who are aware of them and know what it is they are seeing. It is important for the average person to be somewhat familiar with the signs of substance abuse and even more for the substance abuse counselor in order to keep friends, family, and patients safe and clear of addiction and dependence.
Signs of Substance Abuse – Life Changes
A person’s social use of a substance such as alcohol changes form from small amounts to larger amounts and needing more to even feel normal. Establishing a tolerance means a person is using too frequently for it to only be social. If being social requires that much use, than the person probably needs new friends. This person may be becoming emotionally unstable and easily irritable. This could be due to a psychological and physiological addiction and the need. If the person is consuming so much they cannot remember the time and have experienced a black out, that is an obvious one of the signs of substance abuse. If the person becomes agitated when questions about his or her use, and a sense of secrecy has developed, be wary. Substance abuse and addiction usually leads to a culture of all engulfing thought on obtaining and using substances. This leads to a decline in work, school, and interpersonal performance, not because they can’t focus due to the drug culture in their mind, but because they have developed a sense of apathy. It is the apathy that creates enough time and energy in the mind to redirect its focus upon its new obsession. Your addict may start mentioning running out of prescription pills before it is time to refill the prescription. If the person starts morally compromising his or herself by stealing, lying, and cheating, then look for other signs of substance abuse. The user will start experiencing financial difficulty as well, due to spending too much money obtaining his drug of choice. Continued irresponsibility and taking risky behavior should increase your confidence that the person is abusing.
Signs of Substance Abuse – Physical, Behavioral, and Psychological
The person you are concerned with my display other signs of substance abuse, such as dilated pupils, bloodshot eyes, or even constricted pupils. The person may start showing differences in his or her usual appetite and sleeping patterns. The person will likely be gaining or losing weight. There will be a general deterioration of grooming habits and personal appearance. The person may seem to have impaired coordination including tremors, clumsiness, and slurred speech. If the persons social settings change, as in circle of friends, hangout spots, and hobbies, be concerned, as these are signs of substance abuse. If the person is frequently finding himself in legal trouble, he may be using. This would include fights, financial situations, or accidents. Your suspected person may show unexplained changes in attitude and personality. There will be mood swings, outbursts, hyperactivity, etc. These can be gradual or sudden. The person may show a lack of motivation and begin seeming spaced out. Being lethargic is a consequence of the apathy that comes along with substance abuse. The person may show a generalized sense anxiety and paranoia at inappropriate times. Seclusionary behavior and long, unexplained absences are sure signs of substance abuse.
Signs of Substance Abuse – Importance
As any member of society, you will have friends, family, and companions who may fall into substance abuse. They may show signs of substance abuse but to notice them it requires you to be aware of the signs. As a substance abuse counselor this is even more importance. Please study the signs of substance abuse and attempt to notice them in your patients. You will begin to see members of society out and about in the grocery store, the mall, etc., and notice how many users are about and openly intoxicated and how many people don’t notice. It is disturbing. It is our job to reduce this number!