Substance Abuse and Addiction - The Essentials

Understanding and identifying a substance use problem can be the beginning of a better life. Learn how to identify the warning signs of substance use disorders and addictive behavior and where to get help. If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255, then press 1, or access online chat by texting 838255.

Identify, treat and prevent a substance use or addiction disorder with these steps:

Recognize signs of alcohol and prescription drug use.

A person can become dependent on drugs or alcohol gradually or over a short period of time. Some warning signs include decreased energy, unexplained injuries, irritability, financial difficulties, poor work performance, relationship problems and poor personal hygiene.

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Understand addictive behavior.

Addiction doesn’t always have to involve a substance. Sometimes a destructive habit or behavior can become a dependency. Common types of addictive behavior include codependency, internet addiction, compulsive eating, sex addiction, workaholism, compulsive gambling and shopaholism.

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Use strategies to prevent substance use disorders.

The best way to avoid substance use disorders is to recognize that a problem is forming and address it immediately. Be observant and proactive. Try to adopt healthy alternatives for coping with stress and be assertive about confronting a loved one about problematic behavior as soon as you see it.

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Understand treatment and recovery options.

Depending on the type of addiction, there are different options for getting the help you need. Each service branch has a substance use program. Treatment for military family members struggling with addiction is covered under TRICARE. You can also find help through 12-step support groups. To find a program near you, call the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information hotline at 800-729-6686.

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