Movies, books and magazines often portray people who “hit bottom” before they can be helped. Early identification occurs at the first signs of a problem — before anyone has suffered a traumatic event, dropped out of school or lost important relationships, jobs, their health or self-respect.Identification can be done through a screening by a health care professional, employee assistance professional or even a family member.

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As long as family members deny that there is a problem, the problem will progress and so will the suffering. Restore your own emotional stability and bring new direction and meaning to your life.

You will be better equipped to deflect crises and arguments, and shift interactions with your impaired friend or family member.

This information will be good to have if you decide to talk with other family members about the situation, seek advice from a professional or speak directly with the person.

But don’t feel you need an exhaustive picture of the problem before * Share your observations with other family members and friends to determine how they see the situation.

In general, though, all people are better equipped to work on recovery if their substance use problem is discovered and confronted early.

Treatment in the early stages of a substance use disorder is likely to be less intense, less disruptive and cause less anxiety.

It is not easy to live with someone who is using mind-altering substances.

Taking steps to begin treatment and recovery can be a painful process, but it is the only path that holds promise for something better.

Some actions you can take: * Read about the signs and symptoms of substance use.

* Observe the person’s behavior closely over a period of days or weeks to understand what leads you to think there is a problem.

Describe your family member’s substance use pattern to see whether the professional would deem it a problem.