The Signs of Drug Abuse

We are in the midst of a drug crisis in the United States with about 70,000 people dying from a drug overdose in 2018. However, many people don’t think about this pandemic until they are forced to face it personally. Addiction tends to be something people don’t want to talk about even though it is extremely important to discuss it. Since many people try to hide or to ignore an addiction problem, we have to learn how to spot it for ourselves. When you do spot it, you may not know what to do.

Find help with the National Rehab Hotline. You can explain the situation to our operators to get advice and resources that can help save a life. Here are some of the common signs of drug addiction and how to spot a problem before it is too late.

General Signs of Drug Addiction

People can show different signs of addiction, including emotional signs, physical signs, and behavioral signs. Here are just some of the ways you can tell that someone may be struggling.

Emotional Signs


1. Irritability

Many drug addicts find themselves upset at the world around them. You may notice someone getting snippy quickly and for little to no reason. They may even snap at the people they love. It can even get to the point where you don’t want to talk about certain topics for fear of setting off your friend or family member. Many times, the irritability comes from the fact that the individual is either out of drugs or unable to use drugs at the time.

2. Depression

Many drugs produce a euphoric high. The user will feel happy and at peace. The problem is that this high doesn’t last for long. When the high is over, the person who was just enjoying the drugs may start to feel quite depressed. Depression generally refers to constant intense sadness or a complete lack of joy. Many people may mistake the depression from drugs as clinical depression. Instead of going to the psychiatrist for more drugs, the best solution may be to get off of the drugs.

There’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg conundrum when it comes to depression and drug use. Many people take drugs to help cure their depression only to find that the drugs only exacerbate the problem. The depression gets worse, so the addict takes more drugs, creating a vicious cycle of a constant search for relief.

3. Racing Thoughts

A person who suffers from addiction may have a difficult time focusing on one thing. He or she may change topics in conversation quite quickly or switch tasks before finishing them. It can get rather frustrating for people trying to communicate with the addicted individual, and it can even make the person appear erratic. This unpredictable effect is most commonly associated with stimulants such as crack cocaine or amphetamines.

Physical Signs


1. Weight Loss/Gain

When drugs are consumed, they have a significant impact on what happens to the body inside and outside, including weight. Many drugs either curb or increase a person’s appetite. Marijuana and alcohol can encourage eating and a high intake of calories, and stimulants can stop people from eating for days. With these causes, weight loss or weight gain is sure to follow. It’s especially alarming if the change happens in a short timeframe.

2. Restlessness

Some people naturally just can’t seem to sit still. Others can’t sit still due to the drugs they put in their bodies. Be alert if you notice someone constantly moving, touching themselves, or twitching. This fidgetiness may also be associated with rapid thoughts.

3. Poor Complexion

Drugs are not great for the skin. In fact, some drugs, like methamphetamine, can even cause unsightly sores on the face and body. When sores start to develop, this is usually a sign of prolonged use. Be careful not to confuse natural breakouts for a bigger problem, especially in teenagers.

4. Poor Hygiene

When someone is on drugs, he or she is not in the correct mental space to focus on basic hygiene, such as showering or changing clothes. The person may smell and look bad, exposing the addiction to anyone close enough to smell him or her.

5. Lack of Coordination

Drugs affect the equilibrium that helps provide balance. A person high on drugs may not have great coordination skills. He or she will not be able to catch or to throw, and he or she may not even be able to walk without stumbling or holding onto things for leverage.

Behavioral Signs


1. Lying

Everyone lies from time to time. However, people with a drug use problem may lie constantly. They will lie to cover their addictions. For example, addicts may be especially careful about their phones and tell fibs about where they were. They will also lie to fund their addictions.

2. Stealing

A drug habit can be expensive, and it is hard to succeed at work when you are high. Not working means not being paid, and not being paid means that the user will not have money to buy drugs. That’s why many drug addicts will turn to theft to support their habits. This seemingly low crime can start small by taking a $20 bill out of someone’s purse until it is not enough. Soon, the addict may try ways to steal even more money, even if it leads to trouble.

3. Legal Trouble

A shocking number of people in jail suffer from addiction. Drugs are usually a major cause of why the person ended up in jail in the first place. People will steal or hurt others in order to get their fixes. Sometimes, an addict will hurt people close to them, such as a family member or a boss. Other times, an addict will find a stranger to target. Either way, after a few successful incidents, the call of “easy money” becomes too tempting. Addicts often continue to steal until they finally get caught by the authorities and detained. Unfortunately, being sent to jail isn’t always enough to deter people from continuing drugs once they are out.

Many court systems around the country are working hard to promote rehabilitation as opposed to punishment for crimes related to addiction. However, it’s not always easy to get clean, especially in the prison system. It is easy to learn criminal ways and to make criminal connections while behind bars. You can even find drugs in jail. There is a drug program designed to help addicts. However, many people who go through the legal drug program still end up back in the court system. The good news is that these programs have worked for some people who have gone on to get clean and to become successful. Unfortunately, there is just still a lot of work to be done to improve the judicial system.

4. Isolation

People who suffer from addiction can feel shame. They don’t want anyone to see them in that condition. For that reason, they may stay far away from people. They may not answer phone calls or answer the door. They may even skip out on important events. The longer this happens, the more likely it is that they will eventually lose valuable relationships.

5. Inability to Hold a Job

We all need to contribute to society. One major way we do this is with a job. A job not only pays the bills, but it keeps the world running. However, drugs make people unreliable. They may not be able to show up to work because they chose to get high instead. They may also not be able to function properly if high.

Tips for Spotting Someone Under the Influence

Some people may not necessarily be addicted, but they may be under the influence. It’s crucial to catch this behavior and to nip it in the bud before the monster grows into something much more difficult to contain.

1. Use Your Sense of Smell

Get up and personal to be able to smell the person. While not all drugs emit a smell, alcohol and marijuana are just some examples of drugs that do. In most cases, you’ll be able to smell the substance on your loved one.

2. Hold a Conversation

People under the influence probably won’t be able to have a serious conversation with you. Try to talk with the person to see if he or she is slurring words or speaking incoherently.

3. Bloodshot/Glossy Eyes

The eyes have a way of speaking without using words. When a person takes drugs, you will likely be able to see it in his or her eyes. The eyes may be red and bloodshot or glossy. The pupils may also be dilated. The eyes may also be tired from being high and awake on drugs.

Tips for Talking to Someone About Addiction

When you spot addiction, you may not know what to do. However, you can’t avoid the conversation. It could literally save his or her life. Here are some tips for talking to someone about his or her addiction:

1. Choose the Right Time

Timing is everything when you need to have an uncomfortable conversation. Start by making it a personal conversation between just you and the other person. Including too many other people may make your friend or loved one feel attacked or embarrassed. You also want plenty of time to talk, so don’t initiate the dialogue if you are rushing to get somewhere or to do something else. Tone also comes to play in timing. Read the room before you start talking; you want the other person to be in a good mental space.

2. Listen

While you may get the words flowing, you have to remember that this situation is not about you. Despite how the addiction has affected you, this is the time to listen to the other person. Let him or her talk about how his or her feelings without offering your own. You may be able to gain some insight into the deeper root of the problem.

3. Offer Help

The goal of the conversation should be to get the other person help. You shouldn’t even start talking about it if you are not ready to get the person help. Provide resources by getting information about rehabilitation. Learn more by talking to someone at The National Rehab Hotline.

The National Rehab Hotline is a great resource for people who want to get help for their drug addictions. Simply call 866-210-1303 to find top-notch facilities that provide detox and rehabilitation services. We will help find the right solution for each unique situation that comes our way. Our staff can even help people find something in a specific budget if price is a concern. Everyone can get help if they want it.

Ultimately, sobriety is a personal journey and a personal commitment. Everyone takes a different journey, but it’s important for each person to find help before it is too late. Many parents, spouses, children, and friends have lost someone who could have lived a long, happy life if he or she had only gotten help in time. Don’t wait. Call 866-210-1303 today.