Location: Bradley Hospital

Bradley Hospital

Know How to Tell When Use Becomes Misuse or Abuse

Do yourself and your children a favor by knowing the warning signs of drug and alcohol use and abuse. The best indicator is your own instinct. If things don't seem to add up, they probably don't.

If there is a recent change in any aspect of your child's life, such as school, relationships with friends or relatives, physical performance, overall health, or sleeping or eating patterns, you should probe further.

Teens sometimes need help but just feel like they can't talk to you. They may leave physical evidence, such as empty bottles under the bed or matches or drug paraphernalia in the open, because they subconsciously want a reaction from you.

Other warning signs include:

  • Sudden drop in school grades
  • Unusual neglect of personal hygiene
  • Frequent mood swings
  • A sudden change of friends
  • Lots of talk about partying
  • Your over-the-counter medications, alcohol or prescription drugs are missing
  • Truancy from school or frequent late nights out
  • Lack of interest in previously important activities

Stages of Alcohol and Drug Use and Abuse

  1. Experimentation - can sometimes be detected but usually won't cause any observable changes in function.
  2. Misuse - occurs when alcohol and drugs are sought to deal with problems, to get along with others or to have a good time. You will begin to notice changes at home or school.
  3. Abuse - means alcohol and drugs are being used frequently and compulsively, despite harmful consequences.
  4. Addiction - means alcohol and drugs have become the central focus of life. Addicted people may get involved in inappropriate activity, such as crime, promiscuity and truancy. They experience physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms when they are not using alcohol or drugs.