How To Handle an Increase in Substance Abuse

How To Handle an Increase in Substance Abuse

Table of Contents

Substance abuse is a pattern of drug use that is unhealthy, potentially dangerous, and could get you into a lot of trouble. However, not everyone who misuses drugs gets addicted to them.

While the factors involved in determining addiction susceptibility are still being studied, one tell-tale sign that addiction is on the horizon is when person’s drug use begins to significantly increase.

In this article, we will be discussing what you should do if your drug use spirals out of control as well as highlight the types of substance abuse treatment available.

Management of Substance Abuse:

Seeking Professional help

Sometimes heavy drug use is a sign of addiction, other times it is a sign that grief, trauma, or another mental health need that isn’t being addressed.

People who are experiencing mental illness often turn to drugs to fill a void that they may lack, such as needing more energy, focus or alleviating anxiety or sadness. If you think that you may be using drugs to cover up a deeper issue, talk to your doctor. They will work with you to determine whether psychiatric help or some other form of treatment might be necessary.

Keeping Yourself Busy

If you find your drug use is increasing, it may be a good idea to look at how you are spending your time. Staying occupied by setting goals and planning healthy activities can help keep you away from drugs. Why does this work?

For one, if you are occupied with working, learning a new skill, or keeping busy in general, you won’t have time to get high. The other reason is that it fights against the habit-forming effects of drugs that rewire the parts of our brain responsible for motivation and habit.1

No wonder why drug rehabilitation programs emphasize the need for structure and routine in their patients’ lives.

Maintain Positive Social Support Networks

Recovery is not only a solo journey. It takes people who are willing to provide support, safety, and hold you accountable as you reach towards your goal of sobriety. Research also suggests that positive social support networks were associated with better treatment retention.2

Conversely, it’s important take stock of negative relationships. Are you doing more drugs with certain friends, or is the negativity of friend or a loved one driving your drug use? If so, you may want to consider setting boundaries with these relationships.

Being Honest with Yourself

Physical and mental health share a deep connection and when these are not in a state of balance, can make substance abuse worse. In one situation, a person may have had a stressful week and decides to binge drink so they can feel at ease. Another, with a chronic injury, misuses their medication to deal with the pain.

While it’s easy to make excuses in the moment, it’s important to recognize how easily exceptions can become the rule, leading to more frequent misuse while laying the foundation for further substance abuse problems and addiction.

Early Intervention

There is a critical period in which a person’s substance abuse is not as serious of a problem as it could be. It is at this point, where intervening now could prevent the negative consequences of drug use and eliminate the need for substance abuse treatment later.

What Does Early Intervention Look Like?

Far from being one type of treatment or program, early intervention can occur in a variety of forums such as a mental healthcare facility, doctors’ office, school or even an afterschool program.3

Early intervention can also occur in the form of unsolicited advice from a primary care doctor, therapist, or a trusted family member provides the persons with the awareness needed to make a lifestyle change.

For adolescents, early intervention for drugs and alcohol tends to involve behavioral intervention as well. This is because adolescents who use drugs also tend to act out in school, receive poor grades and risk getting in trouble with the law.

Parents who work full time and have busy schedules, may be unaware that their children are abusing drugs or the extent to which they are using. Nevertheless, adolescent drug use is a serious problem which can impact them later in life.

One 2017 study, found that over 52 percent of adults admitted for addiction treatment reported first taking drugs before the age of eighteen.4

Treatment Of Substance Abuse

Substance use disorder effects approximately 10 percent of the population at one time or another and out of those only 25 percent ever receive care.5

SUD (Substance Abuse Disorders) is a mental health disorder that is marked by changes in brain neurology and behavior in which sufferers are unable to stop using drugs despite the obvious harm that it causes.

Medical Detox Treatment

Those looking to begin recovery, face several obstacles that can make going it alone more difficult. The most serious of which include chronic relapse and withdrawal symptoms.

Drug and alcohol detox programs are designed to address these two issues and offer many other benefits such as:

  • A relapse-free environment
  • Around the clock medical support
  • Greater levels of comfort – reduced pain
  • Higher likelihood of sobriety post-treatment
  • Peer and professional support
  • Preparation for aftercare

Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab

After detox treatment, patients are either encouraged to step up into an inpatient rehabilitation program or an outpatient one, depending on which is a better fit. Outpatient rehabilitation following detox is generally only recommended for those with less severe addictions.

In inpatient rehab, clients focus on healing, insight, and homing in on the tools necessary to lead a sober life. This takes in both a group setting (with peer groups) and as an individual (one on one with a therapist).

Unlike inpatient recovery centers, which are “live-in” facilities, outpatients receive treatment 1-3 times a week while living at home. Like inpatient care, these programs feature group counseling and some individual guidance and are less intensive than inpatient programs.

Substance Abuse Recovery at Golden Road Recovery

Looking to quit drugs and alcohol for good? Then why not come to the best recovery and detox center in California. At Golden Road Recovery, we specialize in helping our clients reclaim their lives. For more information call us today at (877) 372-0536.


An increase in substance abuse is never good, and if left unchecked could become an addiction. While not everyone who abuses drugs will go on to develop a substance use disorder, it is important to utilize skills, such as keeping yourself busy, seeking support from friends and family, keeping an eye on your mental health, and getting treatment if you think things are getting out of hand.

For friends and family with a loved one in the early ages of substance abuse, using early intervention to voice your concerns can be a great strategy to prevent long term substance abuse. With your help, it may be possible to stop substance abuse from evolving into a bigger problem.


Güell, F., & Núnez, L. (2014). The liberating dimension of human habit in addiction context. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 8, 664.

Dobkin PL, De CM, Paraherakis A, Gill K. The role of functional social support in treatment retention and outcomes among outpatient adult substance abusers. Addiction. 2002 Mar;97(3):347-56. doi: 10.1046/j.1360-0443.2002.00083.x. PMID: 11964111.

Morgan, K. K. (n.d.). Early intervention for substance use disorders. WebMD. Retrieved August 22, 2022

Welcome to data and dissemination. (n.d.). Retrieved August 22, 2022

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2015, November 18). 10 percent of US adults have drug use disorder at some point in their lives. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved August 22, 2022

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Expiration Date: 05/31/2025

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