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Avoiding Substance Abuse

What is substance abuse?

Substance abuse is the overuse of alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, or over-the-counter medications. The line between use and abuse is not always clear. A person has to decide where the line is for him or herself.

Substance abuse may feel like a loss of control, an inability to stop using a substance once you start, a dependence on the substance, and/or cravings for it. You may have a strong urge to which you cannot "Just say no." You may find you need more and more of the substance to get an effect. And if you stop using it, you may experience nausea, sweating, shaking, vomiting, and anxiety.

Caregivers tend to have higher levels of stress, anger, anxiety, depression, fatigue, loneliness, sleep problems, and fear. This puts you at greater risk of mental and physical health problems, including substance abuse.

What can I do to avoid substance abuse?

To prevent substance abuse:

What can I do if I have a problem with substance abuse?

To get help with substance abuse:

  • Admit the problem.
  • Talk openly with your doctor.
  • Call your local Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) hotline or go to an AA meeting.
  • Call the National Drug & Alcohol Treatment Hotline at 800-662-HELP.

How can I talk to others about substance abuse problems?

Here are some ideas for talking with family:

  • Be open about how caregiving is affecting you. Talk about your feelings.
  • Be honest if you’re worried about how you’re using alcohol and/or other substances. Talk about how it’s affecting you.
  • Ask your family how it’s affecting them.
  • Ask your family to help you find help.

Where can I get more information on substance abuse?

Here are some helpful websites: