Holiday Fears: Is My Loved One Addicted?

We often begin to hear the holiday buzz around early November. Halloween becomes a distant memory as holiday decorations are quickly put up and plans for upcoming get-togethers are underway. For many the holiday season is welcomed with excitement, evoking images of family bliss – Aunt Sue carving up a turkey for the traditional family dinner, Grandfather cracking jokes. However, for families and individuals entrapped by alcohol and drug addiction the holidays can be a time of great pain, conflict, and stress.

The holidays often are one of the only times of the year when family members are together in the same place. The truth is, no one wants to learn that someone they love is abusing drugs or alcohol. However, refusal to recognize addiction, both on the part of the individual and their loved ones, is one of the top reasons that it goes untreated. During the time together in the upcoming holidays, you may notice behaviors or signs of addiction in your loved one that you may have in the past dismissed, unsure if they could really mean addiction. Or, perhaps you may have no idea what to look for.

So how does one know if their loved one is indeed struggling with addiction? A definitive diagnosis of addiction is best established with the help of a medical professional. However, the Drug Abuse Screening Test is a brief screening that in some cases you will be able to answer the questions for your loved one, in other cases you may need to approach them and have them answer the questions themselves.

Each question will require a yes or no response, and the tool can be completed in a few minutes. Note; this tool assesses drug use, not including alcohol or tobacco.


  1. Have you used drugs other than those required for medical reasons? ___
  2. Have you abused prescription drugs? ___
  3. Do you abuse more than one drug at a time? ___
  4. Can you get through the week without using drugs (other than those required for medical reasons)? ___
  5. Are you always able to stop using drugs when you want to? ___
  6. Do you abuse drugs on a continuous basis? ___
  7. Do you try to limit your drug use to certain situations? ___
  8. Have you had “blackouts” or “flashbacks” as a result of drug use? ___
  9. Do you ever feel bad about your drug abuse? ___
  10. Does your spouse (or parents) ever complain about your involvement with drugs? ___
  11. Do your friends or relatives know or suspect you abuse drugs? ___
  12. Has drug abuse ever created problems between you and your spouse? ___
  13. Has any family member ever sought help for problems related to your drug use? ___
  14. Have you ever lost friends because of your use of drugs? ___
  15. Have you ever neglected your family or missed work because of your use of drugs? ___
  16. Have you ever been in trouble at work because of drug abuse? ___
  17. Have you ever lost a job because of drug abuse? ___
  18. Have you gotten into fights when under the influence of drugs? ___
  19. Have you ever been arrested because of unusual behavior while under the influence of drugs? ___
  20. Have you ever been arrested for driving while under the influence of drugs? ___
  21. Have you engaged in illegal activities in order to obtain drug? ___
  22. Have you ever been arrested for possession of illegal drugs? ___
  23. Have you ever experienced withdrawal symptoms as a result of heavy drug intake? ___
  24. Have you had medical problems as a result of your drug use (e.g., memory loss, hepatitis, convulsions, bleeding, etc.)? ___
  25. Have you ever gone to anyone for help for a drug problem? ___
  26. Have you ever been in a hospital for medical problems related to your drug use? ___
  27. Have you ever been involved in a treatment program specifically related to drug use? ___
  28. Have you been treated as an outpatient for problems related to drug abuse? ___

Scoring & Interpretation: A score of ‘1’ is given for each YES response, except for items 4, 5 and 7, for which a NO response is given a score of ‘1’. Research has found that a score of 12 and greater indicate a substance abuse problem.

When family members see a loved one struggling with addiction right in front of them during the holidays, it is difficult to know how or when to intervene. Approaching your loved one about their drug or alcohol abuse problem may never be easy, but it may very well save his or her life.

If a loved one, or perhaps your own score indicates a substance abuse problem seek professional help. For more information about your options reach out today –  contact .

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