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How to identify a problem

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In helping to identify a drug or alcohol problem, it may be helpful to use the questions provided to the left.

Are drugs or alcohol causing problems in your life? Do you suspect drugs are keeping you from being your best self and living to your full potential? Are you worried about someone close to you?

Here is some information to help you identify a problem in yourself or someone else.


Signs of drug use

Some of the following danger signals of drug use may help identify a drug problem in yourself or in someone close to you.

  • Marked changes in attitude
  • Spending lots of time alone in room
  • Lying
  • Violence
  • Being secretive about movements and friends
  • Strange or secretive phone calls
  • Stealing
  • Not caring for others - family members, friends, etc
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Emotional outbursts, mood swings
  • Changes in group of friends, loss of interest in old friends
  • Sudden drop in grades
  • Skipping classes, skipping school
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irregular sleep patterns and eating habits
  • Dramatic weight loss or gain
  • Constant sniffing, runny eyes and nose, difficulty fighting infection.
  • Drug paraphernalia to look for includes: rolling papers, pipes, bong (marijuana); small spoons, razor blades, mirror, little bottles of white powder, plastic/ glass/ metal straws (stimulants, eg. cocaine and amphetamines); syringes, bent spoons, bottle caps, eye droppers, rubber tubing, cotton and needles (narcotics, eg. heroin).

Alcohol - Questions to ask yourself

Answering 'yes' to some or all of the following points may indicate alcohol dependence:

  • Drinking excessive amounts (in excess of guidelines for safe drinking)
  • Drinking one type or brand of alcoholic beverage (eg. Beer, wine, etc.)
  • Drink-seeking behaviour (hanging out with others who drink, only going to events that include drinking, etc.)
  • Increased tolerance (drinking increasing amounts to gain same effect)
  • Decreased tolerance (drinking decreasing amounts to gain the same effect).
  • Withdrawal symptoms (getting physical symptoms after going a short time without drinking)
  • Drinking to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms (such as drinking to ‘cure’ a hangover, or to stop the shakes)
  • Some awareness of craving for alcohol or inability to control drinking habits (whether or not you admit it to others
  • A return to drinking after a period of abstinence (deciding to quit and not being able to follow through)

If you are alcohol-dependent, you will probably require outside help to stop drinking. This could include detoxification, medical treatment, counselling and/or attending a self-help support group.