No one wants to find out that their friend or family member is struggling with substance abuse. Sadly, though, it is a reality that a number of families and loved ones have been forced to deal with. The ease with which many people are able to obtain substances, such as prescription opioids, has made substance abuse a common mental health disorder.
For those struggling with substance abuse, the most important step in ensuring their health and safety is getting them the help they need – mental and physical. But in order to do that, it is important to make sure that the signs you are seeing do, indeed, indicate that a substance abuse disorder may be present.
What are common signs of drug abuse?
Signs of drug abuse manifest in different ways, as substances affect a person both physically and mentally. Therefore, it is helpful to understand the variety of signs a person struggling with drug abuse may display.
Physical signs of drug abuse
There are many different types of drugs and substances that a person can become addicted to with each substance having its own unique signs. However, there are also common signs that overlap – these can help you determine, in general, if some form of abuse is occurring.
Some of the more common signs of drug abuse to look for include the following physical symptoms:
- Reddened eyes: Note if the eyes are often bloodshot, with pupils being either larger or smaller than normal
- Appetite fluctuations: This includes changes in eating habits, as well as dramatic weight loss or weight gain
- Personal hygiene: Someone focused on drug use usually stops focusing on their personal appearance – signs to note include changes in their grooming practices, including irregular showering and dental care or wearing clothing that often needs to be laundered
- Loss of coordination: Do you note any signs of slurred speech, shakiness of the hands or other parts of the body or impaired coordination while walking or performing tasks
These signs, when noticed in conjunction with other behavioral and psychological effects may indicate the presence of drug abuse in your loved one’s life.
Behavioral and psychological effects
Aside from observable physical signs of drug abuse, you can also look out for changes in behavior or emotions that may indicate a drug problem. Recognizing drug use in family members may be difficult, but there are indications that possibly point to substance abuse.
Some behavioral signs may include:
- Shifts in school or work performance: Drug addiction can adversely affect someone’s academic and/or job performance. Have your teen’s grades suddenly dropped for no obvious reason? Is your friend missing obligations for unexplained reasons? Have you noticed your spouse going to work late or not coming home when expected?
- Suspicious behavior: Is your loved one behaving suspiciously, such as being more secretive than usual? Do you feel they are keeping things from you or meeting people at odd hours? Are they engaging in uncharacteristic behavior, including reckless decision-making?
- Financial concerns: Are they asking for money or complaining about financial difficulties that are suddenly new and unexpected?
- Legal conflicts: Are traffic accidents, getting into fights, stealing money or other illegal activities becoming more apparent?
These behaviors may be warning signs of a potential drug problem.
Additionally, psychological signs are likely to include:
- Personality changes, such as unexplainable shifts in their views on life, values or morals
- Mood swings, bursts of anger or uncharacteristic irritability
- Increased lethargy and decreased motivation, including a lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Feelings of anxiety, fear and paranoia that seemingly come from out of nowhere
While these shifts in behavior and overall changes in a person can be frightening and confusing to witness, it’s important to remember that help is available for your loved one.
What do I do if I notice signs of drug abuse?
While it might feel like an overwhelming situation, the best thing you can do when you notice signs that point to drug use is to remain calm. Panicking and accusing your friend or family member is not going to garner a positive response from them, and will only cause increased tension.
Instead, gather all your facts, do the right amount of research and take the time to have a conversation with your loved one. Present them with the signs you are seeing and how you feel about the situation. For instance, “I have noticed you have been coming home from and going to work later than usual. I feel like something is going on. Is everything okay?” Statements such as these show concern and give your loved one the chance to tell their side of the story in an environment that is safe.
Additionally, if it becomes clear that your loved one is abusing substances, you will want to make sure to get them the help they need quickly. Talk with them, when the time is right, about the options of substance abuse treatment and counseling services in order to help them start their journey to recovery.
Need to talk to someone today?
If your loved one is ready to accept treatment, or you yourself need to speak with a counselor about navigating the concerns of drug abuse in your loved one, reach out to High Focus Centers.
To learn more about our recovery programs and counseling services, contact us by calling our offices at 800-877-3628 to get in touch with someone today.