What is substance abuse?
What can I do to avoid substance abuse?
What can I do if I have a problem with substance abuse?
How can I talk to others about substance abuse problems?
Where can I get more information on 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 getan affect. 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.
To prevent substance abuse:
- Learn about dealing with caregiver stress, depression, and anxiety. If you need professional help, get it.
- Ask for and accept help with caregiving. Make sure you have breaks and time for yourself.
- Find positive ways to deal with your stress and limit caregiver overload.
- Take care of yourself by eating well, getting exercise, and getting regular check-ups.
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.
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.
Here are some helpful websites:
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- Narcotics Anonymous
- Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
- Alcohol Use and Older Adults (NIH Senior Health)
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism