Substance Abuse

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What are some reasons for substance use?

There are a number of reasons that survivors report using substances like alcohol and drugs. A few of these reasons include:


  • Wanting to feel better
  • Trying to numb or escape the pain
  • Fear that family or friends won’t understand
  • Confusion or self-consciousness about the experience
  • Lacking an effective support system or care

What are the warning signs for substance use?

If you are concerned that you’re using substances in a way that could be harmful to your health or have concerns for someone you care about, consider the following warning signs:


  • Spending time with new friends who may encourage substance use
  • Taking or borrowing money or valuables from family and friends to buy substances
  • Giving up past activities or hobbies that don’t involve substance use
  • Performing poorly at work or school due to substance use
  • Lying to hide substance use
  • Avoiding friends and family that criticize substance use
  • Driving while under the influence
  • Getting into legal trouble or breaking laws

Where can I find help and learn more?

If you or someone you care about is using substances, it could pose a serious health risk. Call the Substance Abuse Treatment Referral Helpline 1.800.662.HELP (4357) to find support, or search for a local treatment center through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at

Please note that content on this site does not constitute medical advice and RAINN is not a medical expert. If after reading this information you have further questions, please contact a local healthcare professional or hospital.

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