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What to Look For: Problematic Drug & Substance Use

Learn about the thoughts, feelings, behaviours and physical symptoms of problematic drug and substance use.

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Thoughts add

  • Think you need substances to have fun.
  • Believe you fit in better with friends when you use substances.

Feelings add

  • Feel guilty about your substance use.
  • Get annoyed or lose your temper easily.

Behaviours add

  • Use substances as your main source of entertainment.
  • Use substances to help you escape worries or problems.
  • Spend a lot of time getting, using or recovering from substances.
  • Find it hard to control or cut down your substance use.
  • Have problems with work, school or relationships because of substance use.
  • Stop doing activities that were fun or important to you.

Physical Signs add

  • Need to use more and more of the substance to get the same effect.

Remember, symptoms are changes from your usual routines or habits. Not everyone experiences the same set of symptoms or to the same level. Not everyone experiences the same set of symptoms or to the same level. A person may be diagnosed with a substance use disorder when symptoms are strong, on-going and get in the way of a person’s life.

You can prevent problems from getting worse if you are able to spot these symptoms and take action. If you are worried you are doing something too much, you can explore support options that are right for you.

Need help identifying problems with alcohol and substance use? Check out our self-check quizzes for Alcohol and Substances Use for people under 19, or our Over 19 Substances Use Self-check

Concerned about someone else?

It can be hard to understand why a friend uses alcohol or substances so often. For information on how to support a friend visit, Concerned About a Friend’s Alcohol or Substance Use.

Families are often the first to notice changes and become concerned. For information on how to support a young person, visit Supporting a Family Member.

What Next?

If you want to find out if this is something you are experiencing or are looking for tips to reduce your risk of harm here are a few options.