Coming to the realization that someone you love is on drugs can be a hard pill to swallow but knowing the signs that point to drug use can be helpful for your friend or family member so they can get the help they need. Addiction is a serious problem, with 11.7% of Americans 12 and over reporting use of illegal drugs.  Learning how to tell if someone is on drugs can help you to identify whether they are using drugs and to guide them toward necessary treatment. 

Signs and Symptoms of Someone on Drugs

There are many signs and behaviors to watch for if you are concerned that someone you care about is on drugs – but it is also important to note that just because a person has one or two signs of drug use or addiction does not mean your loved one is necessarily abusing drugs. Some other conditions can present with the same symptoms. Read on to find out how to tell if someone is on drugs.

Behavioral Signs of Drug Use

Behavioral changes are common in those abusing drugs, regardless of the type of drug. Substance abuse has a tendency to cause significant alterations in the way a person normally behaves. If your loved one is exhibiting any new or unusual behavior that cannot be otherwise explained, it should warrant concern. Here are some of the more common behavioral signs that someone is using drugs:

  • Relationship problems with family, friends and/or work colleagues.
  • Neglect of responsibilities, often because the person is more focused on drugs than responsibilities at home, work or school.
  • Decreased performance at work or school – even in a person who typically excels.
  • Financial and legal problems, including falling into debt, overspending, borrowing too much money and getting in legal trouble.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Risky behaviors that a person wouldn’t normally exhibit, such as stealing, driving while drinking or engaging in risky sexual behavior.
  • Unusual mood changes, ranging from unusual levels of depression or anxiety or a person may be more euphoric or energetic than normal for no explainable reason.

Physical Signs of Drug Use

Some people become good at hiding some of their behavioral changes when using drugs, masking changes that are taking place, such as hiding their decreased performance or pretending to be engaged with people around them. However, physical warning signs of drug use are not as easy to hide. Some of the most common physical signs of drug use include:

  • Sleeping problems, such as difficulty falling asleep, falling asleep at strange times or being awake during odd hours.
  • Changes in eating habits, such as an increased or decreased appetite. 
  • Changes in speech, such as slurred speech or talking in a way that is difficult to understand.
  • Eye changes, including red or watery eyes or pupils that are too small or too large.
  • Poor coordination, such as stumbling while walking.
  • Poor physical hygiene.
  • Persistent runny nose.
  • Tremors.
  • Facial changes, including flushing, paleness or puffiness.

Signs of Drug Use for Specific Drugs

In addition to the above signs that someone is on drugs, there are also specific symptoms that are typically present when a person is using a specific type of drug or substance. This is important to understand because, although all drug abuse is harmful, some can be more damaging and require more pressing treatment and intervention. Signs of drug abuse of some of the more common substances include:

  • Marijuana: Red, glassy eyes, lack of motivation, periods of excessive laughter followed by tiredness are all signs of marijuana use.
  • Depressants (such as tranquilizers and barbiturates): Symptoms are similar to alcohol use, such as coordination problems, lack of judgement, slurred speech or general tiredness.
  • Stimulants (such as meth, cocaine and crack): Periods of extreme euphoria/hyperactivity/talkativeness followed by excessive depression and/or sleepiness.
  • Heroin: Needle marks, vomiting, sweating and twitching as well as a possible loss of appetite and strange sleeping patterns.
  • Hallucinogens (such as LSD): Behavioral symptoms such as paranoia, confusion and/or aggression as well as physical symptoms like dilated pupils.
  • Alcohol: Self-destructive behavior, agitation, compulsive behavior or aggression are some of the behavioral symptoms of alcohol abuse, while blackout, shakiness, dizziness or sweating in addition to slurred speech and stumbling around while walking are physical signs and symptoms of an alcohol addiction.

How to Get Help With a Drug or Alcohol Addiction

If you or a loved one battle drug or alcohol addiction, getting the help you need might be difficult on your own. Know that addiction is not the result of a choice you or your loved one has made and you should not feel ashamed or afraid of pursuing addiction treatment. 

Drug abuse is damaging to people, including their physical and mental health as well as their relationships with loved ones. If you suspect someone you care about might be using drugs, knowing how to tell if someone is on drugs is important so you can help them get the treatment necessary.

Finding the right rehab for your loved one may seem challenging, which is why My Recovery Source is here to help. Our program helps you to evaluate your specific needs, including whether you have any underlying mental health or medical conditions that need to be assessed. Once adequate information is obtained for you or your loved one’s unique struggle, the team at My Recovery Source can then help find the right treatment and treatment facility for you.

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