Substance Use Disorder: a condition in which the use of one or more substances leads to a clinically significant impairment or distress.

Warning Signs

It may be hard to understand why people turn to substance use in times where they are struggling. Drugs and alcohol change the brain and how it works when abused over a period of time. The truth is, substance use disorders are complex and take more to overcome than just willpower. As research continues into the field of substance-abuse disorders, doctors and researchers are learning how to help people recover from substance-abuse disorder and lead happy, healthy, and productive lives. The major factors that influence addiction and substance abuse disorders are:

Biology - Genetics play a large role in determining risk factor.
Environment - Factors such as parental guidance, peer pressure, and general quality of life can make a big impact.
Development - The earlier someone starts abusing a substance, the more likely they are to develop a substance-abuse disorder.

In any situation where someone may be abusing a substance, there are multiple signs and symptoms to look out for in order to stop dependence on a substance before it starts.

Common Warning Signs


Personality change

Social withdrawal

Change in daily habits

Change in appearance

Neglecting responsibilities



Proper education about substance abuse and safety is the first step in protecting people from using and substances. The most important times to encourage youth to stay away from substance abuse is during times of transition. Advancing to elementary to middle school, or from middle school to high school, are times when a student is most at risk for being influenced by their peers to become involved with drugs or alcohol. When young adults enter college and leave home for the first time, they are also in a high-risk position. Educating kids and teens and encouraging them to stay away from drugs and alcohol is the most important step in preventing substance use disorder.

If you need help talking to your child about substance use, click here to view our collection of resources for tips on how to approach the conversation about substance use. 

Are you or someone you love dealing with an addiction?

You are not fighting alone.

Norwich Unhooked partners with multiple local doctors, counselors, and hospitals in Norwich to help aid the community with substance abuse disorder treatment and prevention measures.