If you are concerned that one of your loved ones may be abusing drugs or alcohol, you probably feel scared and wonder what the signs of drug abuse are. 

What Are the Common Signs of Drug Abuse to Look Out for in a Loved One?

By learning to identify the signs of drug abuse, you are better able to determine whether you should take action or begin a conversation about drug abuse with your loved one. Here are the most common physical, behavioral and psychological signs of drug abuse to watch for. 

Physical Warning Signs of Drug Abuse

Physical warning signs can be fairly easy to identify. It is important to keep in mind, however, that some of the changes in your loved one’s appearance may not be indicative of a drug problem or any problem at all. If you notice one or two of these signs in your loved one, they are not enough to suggest a drug problem – but if you see them with other types of warning signs (such as behavioral or psychological), it might be a good idea to remain watchful or consider having a conversation with your loved one or someone who might be able to guide you toward help for the person you are concerned about.

  • Bloodshot or glazed eyes
  • Restricted or unusually large pupils
  • Rapid weight loss or gain
  • Poor hygiene
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Frequent nosebleeds or runny nose
  • Extreme hyperactivity or fatigue
  • Sweaty, cold or shaky hands and/or palms
  • Headaches
  • Sores on the mouth or face
  • Track marks on legs or arms
  • Fidgeting 
  • Swollen, puffy face
  • Frequent hangovers, including sensitivity to noise and light, fatigue, gastrointestinal distress, headaches

Behavioral Warning Signs of Drug Abuse

Changes in behavior are also common among people who abuse drugs or alcohol. Pay close attention to your loved one and any changes in behavior on a day to day basis. 

  • Missing work or school
  • Stealing 
  • Frequently asking for money
  • Lying and making excuses
  • Performing poorly at work or school
  • Participating less at work or school
  • Secretive or suspicious behavior, including locking doors or hiding phone or computer use
  • Losing interest in activities they once loved
  • Isolation
  • Being rude or disrespectful
  • Avoiding conversations or eye contact
  • Spending less time with loved ones
  • Suddenly hanging out with a new crowd of people

Some of these behaviors are serious and may need to be addressed even if you are not certain your loved one has a drug or alcohol abuse problem. 

Psychological Warning Signs of Drug Abuse

Psychological warning signs are not as easy to identify, particularly because they occur more on the inside than the outside. However, you may be able to identify some of these in your loved one who is abusing drugs or alcohol.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Poor motivation

How Can I Get My Loved One Help With Their Addiction?

If you suspect your loved one has a drug or alcohol abuse problem, you might feel uncertain how to help. It can be difficult to talk about your concern. You might be worried bringing up the topic could lead to a conflict – but taking the necessary steps is important for your loved one’s well-being. 

Find a professional interventionist or rehab facility. This is the best and safest way to communicate your concerns with a loved one. Invite other close family members and friends and plan what you will say. 

Detox is an important first step to plan for. Treatment options may include a number of options. Outpatient detox enables your loved one to detox at home while under the care of a professional. Inpatient detox is better for those who require round-the-clock supervision in a medical facility. Medical detox is a withdrawal program that is generally carried out under inpatient or outpatient supervision. 

Realizing your loved one is hiding drug addiction is scary and difficult but there is help available. My Recovery Source has a network of trusted treatment centers for drug and alcohol abuse and is ready to help you find the right place for your loved one. Call us today at 866-929-0179 or fill out a contact form to match your loved one to available treatment options in your area. 

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