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3 Signs of Substance Use Disorder

A substance use disorder (SUD) is a reoccurring use of drugs and/or alcohol, which leads to significant and clinical impairment. Determining the potential signs of such a disorder is not necessarily a diagnosis. Only a licensed medical physician or therapist can provide an accurate diagnosis. However, before even going to the doctor, it’s helpful to provide them with all of the information they need. Additionally, there are times when mental illness can occur with an SUD. Once again, these can only be diagnosed by an appropriate licensed physician or therapist, but it’s good to be aware of any potential co-occurring disorders.

If you’re battling with an addiction to illicit drugs, prescriptions, or even to alcohol, you’re not alone. Help is available. American Addiction Centers (AAC), a nationwide leader in addiction treatment, provides inpatient and outpatient treatment in a safe and supportive environment under licensed medical professionals. If you’re struggling, please reach out for the help that you need today.


Causes of Substance Use Disorders & Co-occurring Mental Illness

According to, substance misuse occurs more often in those individuals who are facing mental illness such as:

  • Schizophrenia.
  • Depression.
  • Personality disorders.
  • Anxiety disorders.

Upwards of one and four adults with serious mental illness struggle with substance misuse. This co-occurring condition happens due to:

  • Brain composition, exposure to trauma or stress, and genetic pre-disposition.
  • Mental illnesses that can lead to drug or alcohol misuse.
  • Specific illicit drugs that can lead to those struggling with an addiction to experience symptoms of a mental illness.White prescription pills lined up on a surface next to a prescription bottle to demonstrate substance use disorder.

Many people may be concerned about a loved one who they feel is struggling with alcohol, prescriptions drugs, or even illicit drugs. Or maybe the concern is about themselves. Either way, three signs to consider when suspecting that there is a problem that needs to be handled may consist of social, behavioral, and physical changes.


  • Financial problems/unexplained need for money.
  • Changes in hobbies, friends, or places to hangout.
  • Using substances despite the issues it causes within friendships/relationships.
  • Legal issues related to substance misuse.


  • Lack of motivation.
  • Mood swings/irritability.
  • Getting into trouble often.
  • Changes in sleep patterns/appetite.
  • Participating in suspicious behaviors.
  • Paranoid, fearful, or anxious for no reason.
  • Timeframes of giddiness, hyperactivity, and agitation.


  • Strange smells on clothing, breath, or body.
  • Bloodshot eyes.
  • Rapid weight gain or weight loss.
  • Slurred speech, impairment, or tremors.
  • Decline in physical appearance.

Although many of these changes may appear to be clear as to whether or not someone is battling with an SUD, it may not always be clear if they are also facing a mental illness as well. It’s best to consult a licensed physician or therapist to receive an accurate diagnosis. And knowing that an SUD is what’s at hand, you and/or your loved one can make an informed decision about the best treatment options to consider.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, AAC is here to help. There are resources available to help you to achieve long-term sobriety and to live a healthy and productive life one step at a time and one day at a time.

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