Learn how to find out whether your friend or family member is on drugs. Recognizing the signs is the first step to help a person.

Symptoms Of Drug Abuse

The abuse of prescription drugs as well as other addictive substances has grown rapidly in the past few years. Now, like never before, drugs are being misused in order to provide relief from stress, to improve certain skills, and even as a means of escape from problems. Many people try to induce the naïve and innocent with the sweeping statement that everyone takes drugs. Many people experiment with it just to “fit in” with the rest of their peers. In addition to major health effects, the number of crimes committed because of drug abuse has been growing each day. There is a bewildering array of illicit drugs that are, apparently, used for “recreational” purpose. In fact, studies show that the United States alone pays approximately 100 billion dollars towards drug related health issues, crime, reduced job productivity, and lost earnings. While people may not necessarily come forward and admit that they are hooked on drugs, those who care for them can recognize the signs and help them break free. While some of the symptoms mentioned below might indicate health issues (physical or emotional), the key to identifying signs of drug abuse is to watch for significant behavioral changes in association with these symptoms.
Signs Of Drug Abuse
Behavioral Signs Of Drug Abuse
  • Reduced attention span.
  • Silliness or giddiness.
  • Paranoia
  • Chronic dishonesty
  • Stealing or taking up jobs in order to get more money – an unexplained need for the money.
  • Sudden resentful behavior, temper tantrums, or over sensitivity.
  • Change in hobbies or activities.
  • Loss of interest in family or family activities.
  • Forgetfulness.
  • Nervousness, irritability, and moodiness.
  • Change in grooming and dressing habits.
  • Suspicious and secretive behavior.
  • Lack of motivation
  • Overall change in personality or attitude without any clearly perceived cause. 
Physical Signs of Drug Abuse
  • Insomnia and unusual laziness
  • Blank stare. Red, watery eyes with dilated pupils.
  • Poor physical coordination and slow, staggering walk.
  • Tremors and cold, sweaty hands.
  • Smell of drugs on skin and clothing.
  • Palpitations and irregular heartbeat.
  • Hacking cough and running nose.
  • Extreme hyperactivity.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Sudden weight gain or loss.
  • Flushed or pale skin.
  • Needle marks on skin or stains around the nose. 
Symptoms Specific To Drugs
Difficulty walking, slurred speech, poor judgment, dilated pupils.
Sleepiness preceded by inappropriate laughter or loud talking, loss of interest in general activities, red, glassy eyes, sudden weigh loss, or gain.
Euphoria, anxiety, hyperactivity, dilated pupils, weight loss, sleeping at odd times, anxiety.
Irrational and strange behavior, mood swings, slurred speech, confusion, detachment from people, aggression, and paranoia.
Depressants, Tranquilizers And Barbiturates
Difficulty concentrating, poor judgment, sleepiness, contracted pupils, slurred speech. Symptoms appear to be similar to alcohol abuse.
Impaired vision, headaches, nausea, appearance of intoxication, irritability, impaired memory, anxiety.
Stained teeth or fingers, smell of tobacco.
Loss of appetite, contracted pupils, needle marks, sweating, vomiting, lack of response of pupils to light.

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