Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Drug and alcohol abuse affects more than twenty two million individuals in the United States.  Although sometimes mistakenly considered deficits in “willpower”, addictions are medical illnesses.  Denial of the consequences of the abuse is often the major problem in obtaining adequate assessment and treatment. When the individual with the substance use problem is faced with treatment, the referral is often from another individual such as a spouse or co-worker who has seen firsthand the consequences of the drug or alcohol abuse.

The theories about what causes chemical abuse are many and varied.  We now know that a genetic vulnerability to develop these problems may be inherited.  But, we also know that individuals who associate with others who abuse chemicals are more likely to develop problems with drugs and alcohol.  Thus, these problems are caused by both internal and external factors.

Drug and alcohol problems can strike an individual of any age group, including children.  It is important to remember that there are warning signs exist and when noticed, these signs should be attended to.  These signs may include:  problems at school or work, a need to take in more and more of the substance to get the same effect, more interest in drugs and/or alcohol than other important parts of life, getting annoyed when others mention the problem, legal problems such as driving under the influence or health problems that arise or worsen directly as a result of the abuse.  Mood swings, changes in friends, lying and sneaky behaviors may be warning signs of drug or alcohol in adolescents.

If you think that you could have a problem with drugs or alcohol, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have you ever felt that you should cut down on your drinking or drug use?
  • Have others annoyed you by asking about your use?
  • Have you ever felt bad or guilty about drug or alcohol use?
  • Have you ever used drugs or alcohol first thing in the morning as an eye-opener or to steady your nerves?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, it is likely that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol and would suggest that you might benefit from an assessment.  Even if you answered no to all of these questions but are having problems in the areas described above, you may also benefit from a chemical dependency assessment.

For additional information on drug and alcohol abuse, consider exploring some of these resources:

Alcoholics Anonymous

Grand Central Station

P.O. Box 459

New York, NY 10163oholicAnonymous 11th Floor


Narcotics Anonymous
World Service Office in Los Angeles
PO Box 9999
Van Nuys, California 91409 USA
Telephone (818) 773-9999
Fax (818) 700-0700



1600 Corporate Landing Parkway

Virginia Beach, VA 23454-5617

Telephone (757) 563-1600

Fax (757) 564-1655


Partnership for a Drug-Free America

405 Lexington Avenue, Suite 1601

New York, NY 10174

Phone (212) 922-1560

Fax (212) 922-1570


American Council for Drug Education

164 West 74th Street

New York, NY 10023

Phone (800) 488-DRUG (3784)