Substance Abuse: 4 Behavioral Signs Your Loved One May Need Help

If you're wondering whether a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, changes in behavior can signal something is wrong. Here are some key signs to look for when assessing a loved one's need for outside help.

Failure To Fulfill Obligations

Repeated absences from work, school, family events, and more is not like them. They're usually dependable, but now promises are broken and they can't seem to do what they say they will do.

"They repeatedly show up to social engagements inebriated or are unable to show up at all due to the level of intoxication," says Dr. Kasey Nichols NMD who is trained in administering both conventional and naturopathic medicine.

Quick Shifts In Emotion

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"Another behavioral sign to keep an eye on if you suspect your loved one has a substance abuse disorder is the new onset of rapid shifts in emotion for seemingly benign reasons," says Dr. Nichols. "These quick shifts in emotions can be a sign your loved one is either craving the substance or experiencing withdrawal and its accompanying anxiety."

Denial Of Addictive Behaviors

They refuse to acknowledge the severity of their drug dependency. They may lie about where their money went or where they spend their time. They might also downplay how much they consume or attempt to hide their habit from others.

"One sign is the person is lying a lot, making you feel as though you are crazy. The situation is turned on you," says certified alcohol and drug counselor, Charity Collier. Research shows that when people are confronted with facts about their drinking habits, they tend to underestimate the amount they drink, how often, and deny the impact drinking has had in their lives.


According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, when a person is abusing drugs or alcohol, they often pull away from family and friends. They spend most of their time at home and decline invitations to social outings.

"Are they more distant and reserved? Often when someone is abusing alcohol more, they spend much of their free time drinking and want to spend less with friends and family. They also might feel ashamed of this behavior which also causes isolation," says Katie Lain, director of community engagement at Ria Health.

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