It's natural for people to question or rationalize whether they or a loved one really has a problem, especially when they haven't experienced serious consequences as a result of their substance use. Ideally that's the best time to address a potential problem, before losing a job, a marriage, getting into legal troubles, or during adolescence.
Clinically speaking, alcohol or drug problems generally fall into one of two categories, abuse or dependence. Abuse involves the recurrent use of a substance despite repeated negative consequences, such as missing work or school, neglecting responsibilities and obligations, legal, social or interpersonal problems, or driving under the influence. Dependence involves the inability to cut down or control use, increased tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, related physical or psychological problems, or giving up important social and occupational activities.
A person doesn't have to have all of the symptoms of abuse or dependence, and they may have symptoms of both. The important thing to recognize is that use is becoming problematic or difficult to control, and not to wait until it gets worse.
We encourage you to spend a few minutes and answer the following questions as honestly as possible. It's totally anonymous and confidential, and will help clarify whether you should be concerned with your own or a loved one's drinking or drug use.