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Addictions are diagnosed based primarily on the severity of a patient's drug or alcohol problems. Milder cases of addiction are termed "Substance Abuse", while more severe cases are termed, "Substance Dependence". Most of the time, people who have an addiction are blind to it, or in denial about it. They will not or cannot see the extent of the problems they are experiencing. Because of this denial, addictions cannot be self-diagnosed. An objective appraisal of a person's alcohol or drug use, and the problems a person is experiencing due to their substance use must be made by an experienced clinician before any diagnosis can be made. If any of the following apply to you or to a loved one, call our Clinic at 716-373-4303 to set up an appointment to find out how to get help.

Some problem behaviors that may be signs of alcohol or substance abuse include:

  • Failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school or home (repeated absences or poor work performance related to substance use; substance related absences, suspensions, or expulsions from school, neglect of children or household).
  • Bizarre or lame excuses for social, occupational or family failures.
  • Borrowing (or stealing) money without good reasons.
  • Uncharacteristic mood or personality changes.
  • Recurrent alcohol or substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (driving while impaired, operating machinery while impaired).
  • Recurrent alcohol or substance-related legal problems (arrests for alcohol or substance-related disorderly conduct).
  • Continued alcohol or substance use despite having persistent recurrent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol or substance use (arguments with spouse about consequences of intoxication, physical fights).


Some physical signs of alcohol or substance abuse include:

  • Puncture marks, or long thin lines along the arms or legs (IV drug use such as heroin).
  • Nose and throat problems (snorted drugs such as cocaine).
  • Bloody nose.
  • Nasal and/or sinus infections.
  • Coughing.
  • Loss of the sense of smell.
  • Drowsiness or loss or coordination (depressant drugs such as alcohol, Benzodiazepines or Barbiturates).
  • “Pinned” (tiny, constricted) pupils in the eye (secondary to opioid abuse).
  • Disturbances in eye movement.
  • Back and forth eye movements during an extreme lateral gaze (secondary to alcohol abuse).
  • Red or bloodshot eyes (secondary to smoking marijuana).
  • Drug-related paraphernalia (pipes, pill bottles, small plastic bags or vials, lighters, alligator clips, etc.).



Licensed by New York State Office of Alcoholism And Substance Abuse Services

Council on Addiction Recovery Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 567 • 201 S. Union St. • Olean, NY 14760
Phone 716 / 373-4303 • Fax 716 / 373-4327 • TDD 711

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