Substance Abuse

Can you remember back to the first time you used alcohol or drugs? Picture yourself as you were that day. Think about the circumstances that surrounded taking your first drink or drug. Think about where you were and who you were with. Did you enjoy the feeling the drink or drug gave you? Think about why you were trying to feel differently than usual and why you decided to continue using. Did you ever think there might be damaging consequences when you took your first drink or drug?

Short Term Benefits

When you first began to use alcohol or drugs you probably didn’t see any immediate negative impact. You only enjoyed the short term benefits. As you continued to use, negative consequences started to become clear. Perhaps you began to lose the trust of certain friends or family members. You may have started to stay out later and as a result you began to neglect your responsibilities. Being impaired while driving may have caused a traffic violation or even an arrest. 

Progressive Consequences

It’s easy to ignore the impact at first, but over time, they lead to serious consequences. Drugs and alcohol can and will destroy the foundation of your life and who you are. Over time your substance abuse will impact your relationships, work or school, your health, your looks, finances, as well as your former responsible behavior. All aspects of your life and even your life itself. 

Addiction and its damaging consequences are progressive. The changes can be so small and subtle you hardly even notice. But as each week or month passes your addiction strengthens along with clouding of your memory of how you were before you started down this road.


So how do you know if you have a substance abuse problem? You begin having cravings. You are becoming dependent on the drug, alcohol or the high you get. One serious sign of dependency is your continued use despite experiencing the consequences of the loss of friends, continuing arguments, even the loss of a job or arrest. People who are dependent feel strong physical and emotional cravings, and often use drugs or alcohol or both to soothe their problems – not even realizing what caused them.

You Need More

Your tolerance diminishes over time. You begin to use a little more. You have a few drinks instead of just one or two. A few more hits of your drug to get the same feeling you got when you first began using. Your body tolerates the added poisons you are giving yourself and tries to compensate as best it can.


You begin to experience small withdrawal symptoms like nervousness, bouts of anxiety, trouble sleeping, even cold sweats when you try to stop, or when you don’t have enough money to feed your habit. These are definite signs that you have become dependent on your drug or alcohol. 

Life Changing

Let’s face reality. Your involvement with drugs or alcohol has changed your life – and not for the better. You now have different friends who support your drug or alcohol lifestyle. You do much more different things than you used to. Your new lifestyle is the most important thing in your life.

Isn’t it Time?

You are learning how difficult life can be. Staying on the right track is much harder than it used to be. Bills may be starting to pile up on your desk. You need to gain control of your life before it’s too late. Your dream of finishing college is still there. There are better jobs than the one you are now struggling to keep. Isn’t it time to become responsible? You have to make some drastic changes quickly before your life gets worse. But how?

The best thing you can do right now is to take advantage of the programs that are offered in your community. They are easy to find online and in the local telephone book. Make some calls and get some help. 

Also, the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) have toll-free lines. 800-NCA-CALL for information and referrals, 800-654-HOPE for education and to assist addicted people and their families. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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