Warning Signs

Substance use disorder is a broad term that includes substance misuse, dependence and addiction to alcohol, legal and/or illegal substances.

Signs of a substance use disorder may include physical, behavioral, and social changes. There are a number of warning signs to look for when you suspect someone might be struggling.

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Warning Signs

Physical Symptoms
  • Bloodshot eyes and abnormally sized pupils
  • Sudden weight loss and weight gain
  • Deterioration of physical appearance
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing
  • Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination
Behavioral Symptoms
  • Drop in attendance and performance at work or school
  • Frequently getting into trouble (fights, accidents, illegal activities)
  • Using substances in physically hazardous situations such as while driving or operating a machine
  • Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • Unexplained change in personality or attitude
  • Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness
  • Lacking of motivation
  • Appearing fearful, anxious, or paranoid, with no reason
Social Symptoms
  • Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies
  • Legal problems related to substance use
  • Unexplained need for money or financial problems
  • Using substances even though it causes problems in relationships
  • Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors

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