Problematic Behavioral Changes

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Addiction isn’t always obvious. Physical changes due to substance abuse can take time depending on the specific genetic make up of an individual. Psychological changes, like developing a chemical dependency, can also take time. Where the most obvious yet hidden signs of addiction lie is in behavioral changes.


Behavioral changes are influenced by drugs and alcohol because chemical substances chemically alter the brain. As addiction grows, the need to protect and sustain substance abuse also grows. Consequently, behavior changes in addition to body and mind.

Behavioral Changes in School

  • Not showing up to class
  • Failing to turn in assignments on time or at all
  • Not completing classes, dropping out, or not fulfilling the demands of a course for a completed grade
  • Receiving multiple campus violations for various reasons
  • Getting kicked out of dormitories or on campus housing
  • Going on a campus or academic probation
  • Losing scholarships, job positions, internships, or academic standing

Behavioral Changes in Extracurricular Activities

  • Not showing up to practice or lessons
  • Not completing training
  • Losing status on teams or within organizations due to missed attendance, poor performance, breaking rules, or behavioral problems

Behavioral Changes in Social Settings

  • More mention of drama than normal
  • Shifting in social circles
  • Spending more time with new people than old friends
  • Doing new activities more often, which take away from prioritizing academics or extracurricular activities
  • Becoming more concerned with new friends than responsibilities and family time
  • Staying out past curfews, citing new friends, acting frantic at the idea of not being around them

Behavioral Changes at Home

  • Ignoring household responsibilities
  • Changes in personal schedule, like coming home past curfew and waking up late)
  • Acting cold and distant when in the home
  • Acting disrespectfully, intentionally mean, and without regard to others
  • Not asking for permission
  • Constantly breaking rules
  • Instigating arguments
  • Isolating into personal space with locked doors
  • Demanding more privacy


If you notice any of these behavioral changes taking place, it is possible a loved one in your life could be struggling with substance abuse. Behavioiral changes can also be the symptom of a developing mental health disorder, which a loved one may be attempting to self-medicate for with substance abuse.