If you suspect that a close friend or family member may be abusing drugs, it will often be a difficult situation to approach and understand. They are likely hoping to hide any symptoms, or may not even fully recognize themselves the extent of their drug use problems. If you’re worried about their well-being, the signs of drug addiction below are one way to help identify if a person is using addictive substances.

Signs of Drug Addiction to Look for:

Physical: There are a number of physical warning signs that indicate when a person is abusing drugs. These include a rapid change in weight, either less or more, deterioration of their external appearance and grooming habits, and eyes that are bloodshot or with an extreme change in pupil size. More situational signs include slurring speech and smelling unusual.

Psychological: Since drug use affects the mind as well as body, it’s only logical that a user will display changes in their emotional and mental behaviors as well. Unexplained moodiness or anxiety may signal drug use, as will a lack of motivation or extreme agitation. While many of the psychological signs of drug abuse can also have other causes, their most important factor is that they are seeming without reason, and drastically different than how the individual normally acts. This is a sign that may be difficult for outsiders to judge but will send off alarm bells for those who know and love the person.

Behavioral: If the person begins directly acting strangely, in addition to physical and psychological changes, this can also be signs of drug use. If they suddenly stop caring or preforming well at their school or place of employment, change groups of friends or socialization patterns, or are frequently getting into fights, these are all signs of trouble. An unexplained need for money or stealing, as well as secretive behaviors often mean there is something larger going on, which could well be tied to drug use.

How You Can Help: There are several ways you can help a family member or friend who is suffering from drug addiction or abuse. It’s much easier to start the path to recovery with a support system in place, and you want to make the person you care about feel like they can turn to you for help. However, many well-intentioned attempts to stop their drug use could have quite the opposite result.

  • Talk to them: communication is so important when it comes to this difficult situation. Tell them about your concerns, and do so without judgment or threats. Come from a place of compassion, and as soon as possible.
  • Stick to your guns: Don’t allow yourself to be swayed by excuses, or cover up for their destructive behavior. For an effective argument to actually reach a place of reason, it would be futile to attempt to start this conversation while the person is intoxicated.
  • Don’t neglect yourself: Often caregivers get so caught up in helping that they forget their own needs, and become emotionally burned out as they’re trying to do the right thing. Find your own support system for this process and never blame yourself if your loved one makes a bad decision.

If you or someone you know is suffering from drug abuse or addiction, there are some wonderful programs in place that can counteract their effects and help you to regain your life. Call us at 800-714-2175 to find out how Discovery can help beat addiction.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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