What is Substance Misuse?
Simply put, substance misuse is the repeated use of alcohol and/or other drugs accompanied by a failure to fulfill one's major responsibilities related to school, work, friends, family, or other roles, and/or repeated use in situations that are physically hazardous, and/or repeated legal problems.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Substancemisuse
If you notice unexplained changes in physical appearance or behavior of a friend or family member, it may be a sign of substance misuse. However, you may not know definitively until a professional does an assessment.
What are Some Physical Signs?
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Bloodshot eyes
- Slurred or Agitated speech
- Sudden or dramatic weight loss or gain
- Skin abrasions/bruises
- Neglected appearance/poor hygiene
- More frequent illness
- Accidents or injuries
What are some behavioral signs?
- Hiding use; lying and covering up
- Sense that the person will "do anything" to use again, regardless of the consequences
- Drug-seeking behavior
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Emotional instability
- Hyperactive or hyper-aggressive
- Missing school or work and/or failure to fulfill responsibilities at school or work
- Complaints from teachers or co-workers
- Reports of intoxication at school or work
- Furtive or secretive behavior
- Avoiding eye contact
- Locked doors
- Going out every night
- Change in friends or peer group
- Change in clothing or appearance
- Unusual smells on clothing or breathe
- Heavy use of over-the-counter preparations to reduce eye reddening, nasal irritation, or bad breath
- Hidden stashes of alcohol
- Stealing money, valuables, drugs, or alcohol from family members or friends
Assessment of Substancemisuse
Because of excessive alcohol and/or drug use by college students can become somewhat "normalized," it is often difficult for students to determine if their own substance use is problematic. If you thinking you make have a problem with alcohol and/or drugs, feel free to compete this Self-Screening Assessment. If you would like to schedule a confidential assessment, please call Lisa Arnold, Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, at 203-254-4000 ext. 2146.
The pragmatic approach focuses on psycho-educational strategies to help students define and limit their substance misuse. Students learn skills that help them avoid over-use and potential overdose.
The abstinence-based approach sets as a goal complete abstinence from all addictive substances, including alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription medications.
Intensive Outpatient or Inpatient Treatment
Sometimes a student's level of dependence on a particular substance requires a higher level of care than can be provided in a university setting. When this occurs, appropriate referrals to intensive outpatient and inpatient facilities are made.