Recognizing drug abuse in those who are close to us is not always an easy task. First, it’s important to realize that anyone, from any social, racial or economic background, can become addicted to substances. The signs of drug abuse may be clearly exhibited in someone you love, but you may not recognize the warning signals because that person is so close to you.
Physical Signs of Drug Abuse
There are many different types of drugs and substances that a person can be become addicted to, and each type may provide users with different symptoms that indicate abuse, though these signs are similar in many ways.1
Some of the more common signs of drug abuse to look for include the following physical symptoms:
- Reddened Eyes: Note if the eyes are often bloodshot, with pupils being either larger or smaller than normal
- Appetite Fluctuations: Is there a sudden weight loss, weight gain or a drastic change in eating habits?
- Grooming Habits: Has the person stopped caring about the way they look? Look for a change in their grooming practices, such as irregular showering and dental care or wearing clothing that often needs to be laundered.
- Loss of Coordination: Do you note any signs of slurred speech, shakiness of the hands or other parts of the body or impaired coordination while walking or performing tasks?
Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms To Observe
Aside from observable physical signs of drug abuse, you can also look out for changes in behavior or emotions that may indicate a drug problem. Recognizing drug use in family members may be difficult, but there are indications that possibly point to substance abuse. 2
Some behavioral signs may include:
- School or Work Performance: Drug addiction can adversely affect someone’s academic and/or job performance. Have your child’s grades suddenly dipped? Is your significant other or close friend missing days at school or work for unexplained or unbelievable reasons?
- Suspicious Behavior: Is your loved one behaving suspiciously, such as being more secretive than usual? Do you feel they are keeping things from you or meeting people at odd hours?
- Courting Trouble: Are traffic accidents, getting into fights, stealing money or other illegal activities becoming more apparent?
Psychological warnings of drug abuse:
- Personality: Is there a change in the person’s general attitude toward life or in their personality that cannot be explained?
- Mood: Are you noticing sudden mood swings, bursts of anger or irritability?
- Lethargy: Does the person seem to have lost their motivation for life, often seeming to be lethargic or off in their own little world?
- Anxiety: Feelings of anxiety, fear and paranoia can appear for no reason.
If someone you love shows some or all of the above signs and symptoms of drug abuse, it’s extremely important that you urge them to seek out the treatment they need. Receiving professional drug addiction treatment means being able to once again live a productive, healthy life and be able to reconnect with family and loved ones on a meaningful level.