Spotting a Substance Abuse Problem: Is It All In Your Head?

Substance Abuse Problem

When you suspect that someone in your life has a problem with substance abuse, it can be hard to tell whether or not your concern is a valid one. Maybe it’s not as bad as you think, or you’re just overreacting to the situation. How do you tell when it’s time to do something about your loved one’s substance use?

When To Be Concerned
If you see that your loved one’s substance use is negatively impacting their relationships, work, family, legal standing, finances, or sense of self respect, then the problem isn’t just in your head. The fact that they’re still using their chosen substance even though it’s causing problems is a problem in itself. It shows that the substance has become more important to your loved one than the problems it gives rise to. It’s also a strong indicator when they refuse to discuss the issue or consider that they have a substance abuse problem.

What Actions To Take
To take a more active role in helping this person:

  • Find out more about the signs of substance abuse.
  • Spotting a Substance Abuse Problem: Is It All In Your Head?Observe your loved one’s behavior for the next few days or weeks. Get a good idea of what makes you believe that he has a substance abuse problem. It will help to have this information when you want to talk to other family members about the problem, talk to the person directly, or seek outside help. New Jersey Drug Rehabs can use this information to figure out how to best help them.
  • Talk to other family members and friends about what you’re seeing. If they agree that the person has a substance abuse problem problem, talk about how to best get him help.
  • Contact a helping professional such as a mental health worker, substance abuse counselor, physician, spiritual leader, or guidance counselor to help you. Describe the situation to the professional, and the behavior you’ve observed. Detox facilities in New Jersey are well equipped for dealing with these situations.

Most of all, make sure that you and other members of the family and household are safe from the emotional or physical harm that substance abuse can cause. If you think that you or someone else might be physically harmed, developed a safety plan. Think about who you could call or go stay with should the need arise.


Take Action Early
Often, media like movies and magazines tell stories of people who “hit rock bottom” before they receive help. However, it’s a myth that a substance abuser has to hit bottom before they’ll accept help. Research shows that early intervention is much more effective, before the substance abuse problem gets big and out of control.

Early identification occurs when you first spot a problem; before a major event such as arrest, the loss of a relationship, or declining health occur. A health care screening can identify a substance abuse problem. A health care professional, public health employee, or even a family member can do this. Screening tests are available online. After the screening, what happens depends on the person. Some people decide that they need to cut back, while others need further assessment and possibly treatment.

Living with someone who depends on powerful substances is difficult. Taking steps to get help and recover is an uncomfortable and painful process, but it’s a path that leads to something better for everyone. The longer that family members deny that a substance abuse problem exists, the longer the problem will go on and cause suffering.

You should also remember to get help for yourself. This is a difficult matter to deal with. Make sure you’re emotionally stable and have a sense of direction and meaning in your own life. It might not seem important to help yourself during this time, but it will help you to cope with the many difficulties that may come about.

Some substance abusers get angry with friends or family members when they try to seek help for them. This is perhaps because this signals that the substance abuser has lost control, and no one likes to feel out of control of their lives. They might even threaten the person seeking help. However, it’s important to stand firm and go forward, while also ensuring your own personal safety. Remember, it’s never too soon for a substance user to get help.

substance abuse problem