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Most Common Signs of Drug Use
Learning How to Recognize the Signs of Drug Use Could Save a Life
Drug abuse affects individuals from all walks of life regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, or religion. Not only does it impact the afflicted individual, but it affects their loved ones too. One common refrain among many who are suffering from addiction is that they have their drug or alcohol use under control. They may be quite unaware for some time that they are falling more deeply into addiction. By understanding the signs of drug use, family and friends may be able to encourage these individuals to get help or they may make the decision themselves to enter treatment for their substance abuse problem. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one’s drug or alcohol abuse, the following are some common signs of drug use that are associated with abuse and addiction.
Substance Addiction: It’s a Three-Pronged Disease
Before examining the signs of drug abuse, be sure to remember that substance addiction is a complex disease. It involves physical, psychological, and behavioral dependencies and their associated symptoms. These symptoms tend to vary from one individual to another based on their individual chemistries and the drugs they are using. A person many exhibit just a few of the following signs from each of the three symptoms categories or many. It’s because substance addiction involves these three powerful dependencies that multi-modal treatment is needed to address each one.
Physical Signs of Drug Use
The physical signs of drug abuse may be apparent when that individual is experiencing the effects of the drug or if they are in withdrawal. If the effects of drug use are severe, that person is likely to need immediate medical attention. More than 67,000 people in the U.S. lost their lives to drug overdose in 2018. Never ignore severe symptoms of drug use or withdrawal as they could trigger life-threatening health emergencies.
Common physical signs of drug use:
- Enlarged or small eye pupils
- Glazed or bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
- Dental issues
- Skin changes
- Reduced coordination and motor skills
- Abrupt weight loss
- Unusual body odors
- Trembling or shaking
- Nausea / vomiting
- Breathing difficulties
Psychological Signs of Drug Use
Substance abuse affects both physical and mental processes. When a person is addicted to a substance like heroin, prescription painkillers, or alcohol, their brain chemistry changes. These changes can manifest in signs and symptoms that may be permanent or temporary. Changes can result after an acute session of use or over a long period of time. Like the physical signs of substance abuse, these mental aspects of addiction can have a profound effect on the individual’s well-being.
Common psychological signs of drug use:
- Mood swings
- Changes in attitude
- Changes in personality
- Delusions or hallucinations
Behavioral Signs of Drug Use
The behavioral signs of drug use are sometimes lumped in the psychological signs, but they are apparent in a person’s actions or inaction. When people are afflicted with addiction, they often make decisions or take actions that they wouldn’t normally do. These behavioral signs also affect the individual’s well-being and may negatively impact their families and loved ones too. If you note these signs in yourself or a loved one, they’re invariably signals to get help.
Common behavioral signs of drug use:
- Disengaging from friends or family
- Becoming increasingly isolated
- Spending time with people who use / abuse drugs or alcohol
- Reduced performance at work or school
- Failing to meet obligations
- Relationship problems
- Compulsive behaviors
- Driving while under the influence
- High-risk behaviors (unprotected sex or sharing needles)
- Legal or financial problems
- Doctor shopping
- Lack of hygiene
If you or a loved one is experiencing some of these signs or symptoms, don’t ignore them. Visit JC’s Recovery House for an evaluation. Our addiction specialists are caring, empathetic, and non-judgemental. We know that addiction is a powerful disease, but we also know how to help. Choose from among our various faith-based programs to find your path to lasting recovery. We offer partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient therapy, and more. With professional, evidence-based treatments at a high-quality rehab like ours, you can achieve recovery. Let us help.