Substance use disorder affects the whole family and it is heartbreaking to see someone you love suffer with the disease. But you are not alone. Substance use disorder is treatable and there are many resources for both you and your loved one. Contact NDTS if you think someone you love is suffering.

Symptoms of Substance Use Disorder

  • Continued use of drugs or alcohol despite experiencing the serious negative consequences of heavy drug or alcohol use. 

  • Blaming other people or circumstances for his or her problems instead of realizing that the difficulties result from use of drugs or alcohol. 

  • Denial—believing that drug use is normal, or that "everyone" uses drugs.

  • Withdrawal symptoms differ depending on the drug, but they may include nausea, sweating, shakiness, and extreme anxiety. The person may try to relieve these symp- toms by taking either more of the same or a similar substance. 

  • Tolerance—A person will need increasingly larger amounts of alcohol or drugs to get high.

  • Craving—A person will feel a strong need, desire, or urge to use alcohol or drugs, will use alcohol or a drug despite negative consequences, and will feel anxious and irritable if he or she can’t use them. Craving is a primary symptom of addiction.

  • Loss of control—A person often will drink more alcohol or take more drugs than he or she meant to, or may use alcohol or drugs at a time or place he or she had not planned. A person also may try to reduce or stop drinking or using drugs many times, but may fail. 


  • You are participating in your loved one's treatment for yourself, not just for the sake of the person who used substances.

  • Your loved one’s recovery, sobriety, or abstinence does not depend on you.

  • Your family’s recovery does not depend on the recovery of the person who used substances.

  • You did not cause your family member’s substance use disorder. It is not your fault.