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FAQ's about Substance Use

A:  To learn about the different types of substances misused, please click on each substance below.  The link will share information on their origins, common names, how it is abused, the effects on the mind and body, overdose effects, other drugs with similar effects, and their legal status in the United States.









 Peyote & Mescaline


 Binge Drinking

 Caffeine and Alcohol
 Underage Drinking

 Marijuana /Cannabis
 Marijuana Concentrates
 Drugs of Concern
 Bath Salts



 Salvia Divinorum

 Tobacco and Nicotine
 Smokeless Tobacco
 Underage Smoking

Sources:  Drug Enforcement AdministrationCenter for Disease ControlNational Institute on Drug Abuse, Above the Influence


Q:  What ate the reasons adolescents and adults misuse substances?

A:  People misuse substances for different reasons.  Some reasons include but are not limited to: 


  • Peer pressure
  • To look and feel “grown up”
  • Modeling parent’s or other’s behaviors
  • Curiosity
  • Boredom
  • Self-medication
  • Rebellion
  • To have fun
  • Ignorance
  • Already addicted

Q:  What are the signs of substance misuse?

A:  There is not one easy way to tell if someone is using drugs or alcohol.  Some of the signs may at times be typical adolescent behavior or the signs of other issues or disorders.  While different substances have different physical effects, the symptoms of misuse are similar.  If you recognize yourself or someone else with the following signs and symptoms of substance misuse, consider talking to someone.


Personal Appearance
  • Messy, shows lack of caring for appearance
  • Poor hygiene
  • Red, flushed cheeks or face
  • Track marks on arms or legs (or long sleeves in warm weather to hide marks)
  • Burns or soot on fingers or lips (from “joints” or “roaches” burning down)

Personal Habits or Actions
  • Clenching teeth
  • Smell of smoke or other unusual smells on breath or on clothes
  • Chewing gum or mints to cover up breath
  • Heavy use of over-the-counter preparations to reduce eye reddening, nasal irritation, or bad breath
  • Frequently breaks curfew
  • Cash flow problems
  • Reckless driving, car accidents, or unexplained dents in the car
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Locked doors
  • Going out every night
  • Secretive phone calls
  • “Munchies” or sudden appetite
Behavioral Issues
  • Change in relationships with family members or friends
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Mood changes or emotional instability
  • Loud, obnoxious behavior
  • Laughing at nothing
  • Unusually clumsy, stumbling, lack of coordination, poor balance
  • Sullen, withdrawn, depressed
  • Unusually tired
  • Silent, uncommunicative
  • Hostility, anger, uncooperative behavior
  • Decreased motivation
  • Lethargic movement
  • Unable to speak intelligibly, slurred speech, or rapid-fire speech
  • Inability to focus
  • Hyperactivity
  • Unusually elated
  • Periods of sleeplessness or high energy, followed by long periods of “catch up” sleep
  • Disappearances for long periods of time
School- or Work-Related Issues
  • Truancy or loss of interest in schoolwork
  • Loss of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies, or sports
  • Failure to fulfill responsibilities at school or work
  • Complaints from teachers or co-workers
  • Reports of intoxication at school or work
Health Issues
  • Nosebleeds
  • Runny nose, not caused by allergies or a cold
  • Frequent sickness
  • Sores, spots around mouth
  • Queasy, nauseous
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Wetting lips or excessive thirst (known as “cotton mouth”)
  • Sudden or dramatic weight loss or gain
  • Skin abrasions/bruises
  • Accidents or injuries
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Sweatiness
Home- or Car-Related
  • Disappearance of prescription or over-the-counter pills
  • Missing alcohol or cigarettes
  • Disappearance of money or valuables
  • Smell in the car or bottles, pipes, or bongs on floor or in glove box
  • Appearance of unusual containers or wrappers, or seeds left on surfaces used to clean marijuana
  • Appearance of unusual drug apparatuses including:  pipes, rolling papers, small medicine bottles, eye drops, butane lighters, or makeshift smoking devices like:  bongs made out of toilet paper rolls and aluminum foil
  • Hidden stashes of alcohol


A:  Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain—they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long-lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs.




A:  Drug testing is used to identify the presence of a substance.  It is one of the tools used in an assessment and/or in treatment, but drug testing is not the only method used to determine a substance use problem or a sign of recovery.  Along with observations, behaviors, and collateral information, drug testing should be used to:
  • measure readiness for a treatment intervention,
  • provide positive reinforcement, and
  • monitor progress in the treatment intervention.



A:  Addiction may be a complex brain disease but is treatable.  There are different treatment approaches because one approach may not be the right one for every person.  Treatment options may include:
  • detoxification (the process by which the body rids itself of a drug)
  • behavioral counseling
  • medication (for opioid, tobacco, or alcohol addiction)
  • evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
  • long-term follow-up to prevent relapse
Treatment interventions and follow-up options should be tailored to the person.  Treatment should include both medical and mental health services as needed.  Follow-up care may include community- or family-based recovery support systems.  Recovery is possible!



For Adults:  Find a Substance Abuse Walk-In Assessment Center or call 1-800-563-4086 to find a center near you. 


For Adolescents:  Find an Adolescent Substance Use Provider or call Infoline (211) to find a provider near you.



A:  Yes, minors may get substance use treatment without parental consent.


Source:  CT General Statue Sec. 17a-688

Q: How does Public Act 21-1 An Act Concerning Responsible & Equitable Regulations of Adult-Use Cannabis affect the Department? 

A: Public Act 21-1 legalizes the use of marijuana in the State of Connecticut, but the Department recognizes that the use of marijuana by any adult/child may still pose a risk and impact their social emotional wellbeing.  The use of cannabis cannot form the primary basis for any action of proceeding by DCF, and the Department will continue the practice of assessing parental capacity and impact on the ability to care for the child throughout our work.  Please see Commissioner Dorantes' memo from July 15, 2022 clarifying this.