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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS                                                             

What are some of the signs that indicate that my family member has a substance abuse problem? 

  • Over-confident


  • Accusative


  • Problems at school/work


  • Difficulty sleeping


  • Lying


  • Stealing


  • Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual


  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns


  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain.


  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing.


  • Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination.


  • Sudden requests for money without a reasonable explanation 


  • Argumentative

  • Poor personal hygiene


  • Unusual weight loss or gain


  • Dilated pupils


  • Cold, sweaty palms


  • Irritability


  • Depressed


  • Withdrawn


  • Suspicious


  • Excessively talkative


  • Impatient


  • Violent


  • Sleepiness


  • Poor listening skills

How do I address these concerns with my family member?


Do not engage in any conversation when someone is impaired. They may not be able to effectively understand let alone remember what was said until after they have had a chance to be alcohol and drug free.  Be specific about the behaviors you are seeing and make sure you talk about how these behaviors are impacting you versus blaming or judging them. You want to make sure that these concerns are heard out of love rather than anger.

How do I go about seeking help?


The following website is helpful in finding places that can provide evaluations to determine what type of help would be most beneficial - Behavioral Health Treatment Services 


What are the different types of treatment for substance abuse?


Residential/Inpatient: Clients live in a facility which is monitored 24 hours a day. It is the most  structured and intensive treatment modality.


Partial Hospitalization Program: Clients live at home while attending treatment in a facility for about 20 hours a week. This is usually a program that provides treatment five days a week for about four hours each day.


Intensive Outpatient: Clients live at home while attending treatment in a facility for at least 9 hours a week. This is usually a program that provides treatment 3-4 days a week for about 3 hours each day.


Outpatient: Clients see a professional in the community once or twice a week. This is the least  intensive program.


What if my impaired family member is not ready or resists getting help?


Many times denial or resistance is part of the problem in dealing with a substance abuser.  Setting limits to send the message as to what you are willing to do and not do can encourage a substance abuser to ask for help. The more you do for them, the less motivated they will be to seek help.  In those cases where you may be afraid that the person may harm themselves or someone else, obtaining a Marchman Act may be necessary.  This is a legal procedure that forces someone into treatment if they are at the point of hurting themselves and others due to abusing substances.  For more information, go to the following link:  Marchman Act


If someone is forced into substance abuse treatment, can it really help?


Many times it is believed that if someone is made to get help without being ready, the effectiveness of that help is limited. However, when someone enters into treatment for substance abuse, their brains and bodies have time to heal.  It is at this point that they may start to think differently, feel they deserve to live a better life and thus gain motivation to begin making changes.


What help is available for families?


Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, Families Anonymous, CODA and ACOA are all support groups free of charge to help families members cope more effectively with the circumstances of dealing with a substance abuser.  See Resources page for more information.


What can I as a family member do to be helpful?


Set limits; seek help for yourself by attending support groups for families or with a professional. The    

more information you have, the better you will be in knowing what to do for yourself and the substance



If someone enters substance abuse treatment at a residential facility, how long will it take?


The length of time in a residential facility varies depending on the client. The average length of stay is probably between 30-45 days. Research indicates that 90 days in treatment may be most effective. This can be a combination of different modalities.


Are you drinking too much?  Four simple questions to ask:  (CAGE)


Have you ever thought you should Cut down your drug or alcohol use?

Have you ever felt Annoyed when people have commented on your use?

Have you ever felt Guilty or badly about your use?

Have you ever used drugs to Ease withdrawal symptoms, or to avoid feeling low after using?




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