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Telltale Signs of Drug Use

Drug use does have its telltale signs that can allow someone on the outside to peer into the drug abuser’s world. Some signs are similar across the board of drug types, but others are a bit more specific to the certain drug. These are some of the most important telltale signs of drug use.

Physical Signs of Drug Use

According to the NIDA, “the physical signs of abuse or addiction can vary depending on the person and the drug being abused.” Many friends and family members who suspect some sort of drug abuse should monitor the physical symptoms of their loved one and search for those specifically. For example, here are some of the telltale physical signs of abuse and the drugs they accompany.

  • Marijuana- chronic cough, red eyes, memory issues (NIH)
  • Cocaine- moving fast, twitching, insomnia, weight loss
  • Heroin- small pupils, sluggishness, euphoria, track marks
  • Prescription opioids (painkillers)- constipation, small pupils, vomiting
  • Meth- hyperactivity, fast breathing, mood swings, teeth grinding

Many of these physical aspects of drug use are different depending on the drug. However, some physical symptoms do accompany the use of many different types of drugs. Most people use drugs recreationally in order to get high. The drugs above will all cause a kind of high or euphoria in medium to strong doses. Being on drugs will also cause confusion no matter what the particular type, as drug use affects the brain and (often) the user’s ability to think clearly.

Behavioral Signs of Drug Use

drug abuse signs

Changing friend groups, interests, and behaviors could be signs of drug abuse.

A person who is using drugs recreationally will start to behave differently after a while. The NLM lists many of the behavioral signs of drug use, including those which can be most concerning. They are:

  • Using drugs alone
  • “Neglecting to eat,” sleep, shower, or do other daily activities often because of the desire to take drugs
  • “Episodes of violence”
  • Not going to work or school or neglecting other responsibilities in order to take drugs or because they have been taking drugs
  • Making excuses or keeping secrets
  • Major changes in friendships and group dynamics when the person decides to only spend time with those who also use drugs
  • Neglecting things they once loved because they suddenly lost interest
  • Being very susceptible to mood swings and other emotional issues, happy or giggly one day and then severely depressed the next
  • “Hostility when confronted about drug dependence”
  • Being unable to stop taking drugs, even when the person knows drugs are hurting them and their loved ones

Those who behave in these ways are very likely hiding their drug use, and it may even be more troubling than it seems. Especially if someone experiences the final issue, the person could be in danger of being addicted to a drug or several different drugs.

How Do I Look for These Telltale Signs?

Someone who is using drugs will not often realize all the signs they are exhibiting. Make sure to observe but not to confront, as this will likely put the person on edge. Observing from a distance is usually safer, and consider discussing the issue with another friend or family member of your loved one first. When you notice that the individual is exhibiting many of these traits, you may want to consider rehabilitation or another kind of treatment.

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