Diagnosing substance abuse is not as complicated as many might think. Only two out of the list of symptoms which would indicate substance use disorder have to be present over a period of 12 months, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Many people aren’t aware of how simple and common the early signs of substance abuse are. Focusing on the more developed signs of substance abuse like cravings and withdrawals, they miss the early behavioral symptoms. Early intervention is proven to be most effective in abstinence after treatment.


  • Taking a higher dosage than the prescribed amount of prescription or over the counter medication: Prescription medication and over the counter drug addiction is common. If a loved one is known for taking one or two more than the normal prescription, this is a sign of substance abuse. Their addiction might not be the medication they are taking, but something else. It is the behavior of chronically taking more medication than necessary which is problematic.
  • Claiming to need to use medications longer than prescribed amount of time: Medications, both prescription and over the counter, create physical as well as mental effects which can be enjoyable and euphoric. Substance abuse means using medications, or any substance, beyond it’s purpose. Trying to extend medication beyond its original expiration date indicates that there is a growing preference for being under the influence of substances.
  • Drinking more alcohol than normal, but justifying it: For those who are abusing alcohol, there is always a reason to drink. Once they start building a tolerance and need to drink more, there is always a reason to drink more as well. Despite growing consequences of drinking more and more, the alcohol consumption continues to build.
  • Changes in relationships and responsibilities: Substance abuse affects all areas of life. Friendships, social circles, romantic relationships, family relationships, and any kind of human to human interaction changes significantly when substance abuse becomes part of the picture.
  • Denial of any problem: Denial is a common part of substance abuse. When substance abuse is in its early stages and there doesn’t seem to be a problem which is fully developed, denial will be at its worst because substance abuse in mild forms is very common.
  • Admitting there is a problem; admitting they cannot or will not stop: As substance abuse becomes more developed it becomes more difficult to deny there is any problem. A hallmark of substance abuse is actually admitting there is a problem but continuing to abuse substances despite the problem.
  • Chemical dependency signs: cravings, tolerance, withdrawal: Substance abuse becomes a fully developed problem of chemical dependency when signs of cravings, tolerance, and withdrawal start showing up, in any form.



If you believe you or a loved one might be suffering from a substance abuse problem, you are not alone. Our dynamic team of experienced recovery professionals is here to help you and your family find create a plan of treatment that helps you focus on bringing recovery home. We’ll help with the details. Call us today for information on our recovery planning services: 714-559-3919

Most Recent Blog Posts

5 Ways To Forgive Yourself In Recovery

    Sometimes, in active addiction, we do things we aren’t proud of. We may have hurt the ones we love, do things we are ashamed of, and caused harm to ourselves. We may feel guilty, embarrassed, and angry. Although you may have gotten substance abuse treatment and are...

    Read More

    Recognizing A Problem With Alcohol

      It can be fun and relaxing to go out for drinks with your friends on Friday nights after a long work week or have a cocktail before bed. Many people drink alcohol and do so regularly, but how do you know when your drinking has become a problem? When many of us think...

      Read More

      Which 12-Step Program Is Right For Me?

        12-Step programs are a common part of addiction recovery. Many treatment programs utilize a 12-Step approach, and many of those recovering choose to attend meetings after they complete their treatment. Attending meetings can help individuals maintain their recovery...

        Read More


        21062 Brookhurst St. #201, Huntington Beach, CA 92646

        ©2021 All Rights Reserved. Design & Development by Goldman Marketing Group | Sitemap | Privacy Policy The information available on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace a medical consultation where a physician's judgment may advise you about specific disorders, conditions and or treatment options. We hope the information will be useful for you to become more educated about your health care decisions. If you are vision-impaired or have some other impairment covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act or a similar law, and you wish to discuss potential accommodations related to using this website, please contact us at