Contact Us P: 949-371-4198

Uncovering the Signs and Symptoms of Substance Misuse

13There are many people who can go out and have a drink from time to time without ever developing a problem. Or they take prescription drugs as intended, finish their treatment, and go back to their daily routines. Drug and alcohol addiction doesn’t become a problem. But for some people, it does become a problem.

Their drinking doesn’t stop with just one or two drinks, or it’s not limited to special occasions. They seem to have an endless supply of prescription drugs or finish theirs more quickly than they should. Substance use gets out of their control and begins impacting not only their life, but the lives of those around them. It interferes with their job, their family, their health, their finances, and their relationships.

You may question at first whether they really do have a problem. Your loved one may be good at hiding it or giving logical-sounding excuses. But in time you realize that something isn’t right. Their behavior gets more problematic or out of character. Your family begins to suffer. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of addiction can assist you in getting them the help they need at a San Diego rehab center.

More Noticeable Signs and Symptoms

Weight gain or loss: Drugs and alcohol can interfere with a person’s appetite. Sometimes they have an insatiable case of the munchies, and other times they may go for long periods of time without eating much at all. Also, alcohol contains a lot of empty calories. There is little nutritional value and it may make the person feel full when really they’re not gaining much from it. You may notice that their weight fluctuates or their face has a more rounded and fuller look.

Loss of interest and accountability: Your loved one may stop holding up their end of the responsibilities. Things they say they will do don’t get done. They miss appointments, show up late, or don’t show up at all. Things they used to enjoy doing and places they liked going, they have little interest in anymore. You may notice that they seem distracted and their focus is elsewhere. They’re probably engrossed in thinking about how, when, and where they will be able to get their next high.

Increased paranoia or secretiveness: When you question what they are doing or where they were, they may get very defensive. They may seem paranoid that you’re asking questions or jumpy when you are around. When it comes to sharing information, they don’t as much and it can seem as though they are always hiding something.

Sleep problems: From staying up all night to sleeping all day and everything in between, drugs and alcohol can affect sleep patterns. Your spouse may have a lot of energy sometimes and other times be very lethargic. They may nod off in the middle of a conversation or stay awake for days on end. When they do sleep, it may not be very restful.

Financial struggles: Drugs and alcohol can be expensive. The more serious their addiction becomes, the more it can cost. Are they always asking to borrow money or seem short on cash? Do you notice that bills aren’t getting paid or they’re racking up a lot of debt? This can indicate a problem with substance misuse.

Less Noticeable Signs and Symptoms

Some signs may not be as apparent. Your loved one may do a good job of covering their tracks or coming up with stories that seem to fit the situation and downplay their drug or alcohol use.

Long sleeves and pants: In an attempt to cover up marks from injecting drugs or cuts and bruises from falls, your loved one may wear long sleeves and pants all the time. This could also be to keep warm due to the effects of weight loss or other health problems stemming from their drug use. Even when it’s hot outside, they stay covered up.

Skin changes: Also as a result of continued substance misuse, you may notice that their skin seems dry or rashes appear. Those who use methamphetamines may pick at their skin a lot, which leaves marks.

Poor hygiene: You may notice that they have bad breath or try to cover up body odors. They may not shower, brush their teeth, or comb their hair every day. They may be wearing yesterday’s clothes. Overall, their hygiene may become less of a priority or concern, except to those around them.

Forgetfulness: What did they do last night or even a few weeks ago? They may not be able to remember. You may ask them to do something and they forget. Drugs and alcohol can impair their thinking and memory. They may also lie to try to cover up their substance use and their stories may not align from one day to the next.

These are just a few of the symptoms you may notice. You may also observe signs such as:


  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Tremors
  • Mood swings
  • Poor grades or performance at work
  • Unusual behavior


It will vary from person to person, but all of these things and more might make you concerned about a substance use disorder. It is important to follow your instincts, and if you think there is a problem, seek help. Talk to your doctor or contact an addiction specialist. They can work with you to better determine if there is an issue with substance misuse, or if it is related to something else. They can also support you in helping your loved one get into treatment.

Ignoring that there is a problem doesn’t make it go away. In fact, it can allow it to become even worse. And one day, it may be too late. Step up and speak out. Contact Chapters Capistrano at 949-371-4198 to learn more about our executive rehab program. Find out how we can help your loved one overcome their addiction and start a new chapter in their life.