Student Who May Have a Substance Addiction

 Physical Signs

  •  Blood-shot eyes
  • Slurred speech or difficulty speaking intelligibly
  • Lack of coordination or poor balance
  • Disheveled appearance/poor self-care
  • Pinned pupils in low light or dilated pupils in well-lit areas
  • Smells like alcohol or has a sweet, pungent smell
  • Nausea, insomnia, sweating, or concentration problems after reducing or stopping use
  • Changes in sleep patterns

 Behavioral Signs

  • Failure to fulfill major school, work, or home responsibilities.
  • Risky behaviors such as driving any vehicle after drinking or starting fights.
  • Recurrent legal problems related to alcohol or drugs, such as DWI or possession charges.
  • Relationship problems caused or worsened by alcohol or drug use.
  • School-related problems such as poor attendance, low grades, or recent disciplinary action.
  • Changes in friends/peers or withdrawal from friends.
  • Secretive behaviors.
  • Restlessness or jumpiness.
  • Multiple doctor appointments without evidence of a problem.

 Emotional Signs

  • Emotional Instability – sudden shifts in mood
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Aggressive outbursts
  • Anxiety


  • Treat the situation as serious.
  • Share your concern and encourage the student to seek help.
  • Recognize that denial is a powerful aspect of substance problems and that it can involve conscious or unconscious lying and distorting the truth.
  • Refer the student to Counseling and Psychological Services (828.227.7469).
  • Refer the student to University Health Services (828.227.7640).

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