Substance Abuse: Signs and Risks

Substance Abuse: Signs and Risks

Substance Abuse: Signs and Risks

 Lee esto en Español

More than 23 million people in the U.S. struggle with drug abuse each year. And about 10% of U.S. adults have had drug use health problems some time in their lives, says the National Institutes of Health.

But how do you know if your alcohol or other drug use has become a problem?

Some signs to look for:

  • Not being able to stop taking the drug
  • Needing more of the drug to get the same feeling
  • Having problems at school or work
  • Changing what you do, like starting to steal to get money for drugs
  • Having withdrawal signs like shaking, nausea, cramps, sweating, slurred speech or seizures when you try to stop

Anyone can be at risk for abusing alcohol or other drugs. But some people are more at risk. Like those  with a family history of addiction. Substance abuse appears to have a genetic link. People with mental health disorder like anxiety or depression are also at risk. Many use drugs to cope.

Other signs of higher risk:

  • Peer Pressure. Many can be pressured, especially young people, by friends or family members to use drugs.
  • Lack of family ties. Difficult relationships with parents can lead to loneliness for a young person. That can lead to drug abuse.
  • Early use. Using drugs at an early age can change the brain. That makes some people more likely to keep using drugs.
  • Taking a highly addictive drug. Some painkillers like opioids leaving site icon and stimulants can raise the chance of people continuing to use drugs.
Getting Help

What should you do if you worry you may have a problem? Talk with your primary care doctor. Then, you might want to see a mental health professional.  There are doctors who works in addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry. There are also licensed alcohol and drug counselors.

If you need help finding a health provider, call the number on the back of your BCBSIL ID card. We are here to help.

In case of emergency (overdose, trouble breathing, seizures or any other bad reaction from use of a drug) go to the nearest ER or call 911.

Sources: 10 percent of US adults have drug use disorder at some point in their lives, leaving site icon National Institutes of Health, 2015; What to Do if You Have a Problem with Drugs, leaving site icon NIH, 2016; Opioid Addiction, leaving site icon, 2019.