Skip to main content

Know the Warning Signs of Abuse

Know the Warning Signs of Abuse

Are you at risk for developing a drug or alcohol problem? Or maybe you’ve already got one? Take the RAGS test and find out.

R: Have you ever felt you should…Reduce your alcohol or drug use?

A: Have you ever felt…Annoyed when people criticize how often you drink or get high?

G: Have you ever felt…Guilty about using alcohol or drugs?

S: Have you needed alcohol or drugs to…Start your day?

Answering “Yes” to one or more of these questions may indicate an unhealthy relationship with a substance. A next step could take many forms, including reading a pamphlet, having a conversation with a friend, checking out a website, attending a support group or connecting with a professional. Staff at the counseling center can work with students in a nonjudgmental way to evaluate relationships with substances. They understand that people approach and pursue change in a variety of ways. They can also talk with students about how to help a friend.
Other signs of substance abuse can include:

  • Changes in mood, behavior or appearance
  • Sleeping or eating too much or too little
  • Falling grades
  • Missing classes
  • Nodding off
  • Feeling manic or defensive
  • Acting secretively
  • Increased tolerance or needing more of the same drug to feel good
  • A feeling of dependency or fear of what might happen if you try to quit
  • Withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking the drug, even for a short time
  • Loss of motivation
  • Problems with personal relationships
  • Borrowing or stealing money from family and friends

Are You Concerned?

It’s amazing what your mind and body will tell you if you take the time to listen.

And if you’re “hearing” that it’s time to rethink the way you use alcohol or drugs, it may be time to reach out for help.

How much help depends on what you want to do. But whether you want to explore your options, slow down or quit entirely, getting help is easier than you think. In the end, its your choice.
Choices, Choices, Choices

Most students can’t wait to get to college, live by their own rules and make their own choices. But then the craziest thing happens. You get to college and all of a sudden there are too many choices to make…and every one of them is major.

One of the most important choices you’ll face as an incoming college student is what to do about drinking and drugs. For some people, choosing to use or not to use is a straightforward decision. For others, the decision can be pretty confusing. If you’re not sure what to do about drinking and drugs, take your time and think about it before you make a decision. Make an informed decision. If you’re not sure what to do about drinking and drugs, you can’t go wrong by taking it slow and making your choices one day at a time.

What do you want to get out of college? Do you want to build real-world skills? Make new friends that will last a lifetime? Experience new things? Explore career opportunities? Take advantage of every chance that comes your way?

It’s easy to lose sight of your goals when you’re faced with piles of choices—about classes to take, friends to make, when to study, what you’ll do today and whether or not alcohol and drugs are right for you. Your choice to use alcohol or drugs should be a conscious decision. It is your responsibility to take care of yourself. But college will surely be most rewarding if you keep your eye on the prize.
Sending out an S-O-S

  • Check out your school’s website or visit a website such as Facts on Tap to get some basic info.
  • Talk to a friend or a peer counselor at school
  • Find a support group and go to a meeting
  • Connect with a professional

Professional help is also available from your school’s support services staff. It’s free, it’s confidential and it’s a good place to start if you’re ready for some straight talk about alcohol, drugs and you.

College Drinking – Changing the Culture
Phoenix House: Facts on Tap