Signs of Substance Misuse or Abuse

Top Three Indicators of Risk for Alcoholism

  • Family History
  • High Tolerance
  • Blackouts


Medical Signals

  • Accidents and injuries
  • Passing out (unconsciousness)
  • Gastritis
  • Emergency room visits
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mysterious bruises
  • Blackouts (memory loss)
  • Frostbite
  • Hangovers


Academic Signals

  • Academic failure
  • Not living up to one’s academic potential
  • Missed classes
  • Difficulties with deadlines or procrastination
  • Scheduling afternoon classes to accommodate late night drinking


Sexual Signals

  • Impotence in males
  • Unintended pregnancy
  • Wearing “beer goggles”
  • Sexual assault
  • Delayed orgasm in men and women
  • Failing to use safer sex techniques
  • Contracting a sexually transmitted disease
  • Inability to resist an unwanted sexual advance
  • Sexual activities that are contrary to one’s values


Social Psychological Behavioral Signals

  • Loss of self-respect
  • Personality changes
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Embarrassment or guilt
  • Driving under the influence (no arrest)
  • Causing emotional pain to friends or loved ones
  • Problems with legal or university authorities
  • Property damage
  • Social isolation and withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Panic and unexplained fears
  • Fights and arguments
  • Arrests for driving while intoxicated


Drinking Behavior

  • Alcohol focused recreational activities
  • Drinking to feel more confident in social situations
  • Gulping drinks (especially the first few)
  • Drinking before a drinking event (pre-game)
  • Drinking more than one intended to drink
  • Inability to carry out an intention to “cut down”
  • Inability to predict how much one will consume
  • Inability to predict one’s behavior when drinking
  • Spending substantial amounts of money on alcohol
  • Relieve anxiety, insomnia, pain, or depression
  • Finding excuses to drink
  • Preoccupation with the next drink or drinking event
  • Annoyed or angry when one’s drinking is discussed
  • Family or friends concerned about one’s drinking
  • Drinking again soon after becoming sober
  • Drinking alone, sneaking drinks, hiding bottles