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Spotting the Signs of Substance Abuse

There were nearly 68 thousand overdose deaths in America last year. 

The signs of substance abuse are not always easy to decipher from signs of a mental health issue, or even normal adolescent development. When someone you love acts differently than their usual demeanor, or you notice changes in their normally cheerful disposition, it may indicate substance abuse. 

Here at Arlington Family Practice in Arlington, Massachusetts, we care for every member of your family at every stage of life. Our dedicated physicians and physician assistants have more than 25 years of experience in family medicine, and compassion and empathy are at the core of our practice’s values. 

In that vein, we understand the difficulties you face when a family member or friend uses drugs. We offer these tips for spotting the signs of substance abuse as well as resources where you can get help. 

Signs of abuse and addiction

Signs of substance abuse can appear as physical signs and behavioral signs. 

Physical signs

Behavioral signs

If you’re concerned about your own drug use — either prescription or illicit — you may experience issues such as taking the drug long after you no longer need it for its original purpose. Another sign is that you need more and more of a drug to get the same effect because your tolerance is higher. You might also find that thoughts about taking the drug consume more and more of your life.

Another sign of substance abuse is that you may experience signs of withdrawal when the drug wears off, including feeling sick to your stomach, sweating, or having severe headaches. Depression is another sign of drug overuse. 

What you can do about it

It’s not always easy to take the first step toward helping a friend or family member who’s struggling with substance abuse, and it’s not easy taking the first step to get yourself the professional help you need, either. At Arlington Family Practice, our team of doctors and physician assistants are here to support you and provide the resources you need to recover. 

In addition to contacting our office for assistance, you can also contact the following organizations:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Call 1-800-662-HELP. This service is free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can also visit their website to find help in your location. 

National Drug Helpline

Call 1-844-289-0879 to get help for drug and alcohol abuse 24 hours a day, including treatment and recovery information. Or visit their website

American Addiction Centers

Call 1-888-369-0014 to learn about treatment programs in various locations throughout the United States. Or visit their website

Massachusetts Substance Abuse Hotline

Call 1-800-327-5050 for free, confidential information about substance abuse treatment options and referrals. 

Mass 211

Dial 211 or 1-877-211-MASS (6277) for consultations on addiction crisis and emergency treatment services in Massachusetts. Available 24 hours a day. 

Partnership™ for Drug-Free Kids

This is a resource for parents who are trying to help a child struggling with alcohol or drug abuse. Call 1-855-378-4373 or text 5573 to contact a specialist. You can also send an email to a substance abuse counselor. 

This organization provides a list of drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs in Arlington, Massachusetts. You can call 1-855-350-3330 or chat with a certified drug and alcohol counselor online

Don’t wait until it’s too late. If you’re concerned about a family member or your own substance use, book an appointment online or over the phone with Arlington Family Practice today.

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