Signs of Substance Abuse

One of the biggest problems is that drug abuse happens in the shadows. It’s not like when someone sees a person breaking their leg, they’re obviously injured and it shows right away. Drug use starts out as something hidden, then slowly it climbs up to be visible. If you know what signs to look for, you can see when your loved one is dealing with substance abuse problems.

1. Withdrawal

When a person doesn’t use their drug of choice, they will experience withdrawal. If you see your loved one experiencing these symptoms, it’s time to take notice. Signs of substance withdrawal include the following:

  • Nervousness or irritability
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • Cravings for drugs of choice

2. Drug paraphernalia

Drug users will have straws, rolled-up bills, small spoons, knives, needles, and other tools they use to get their drugs into their system. They are obsessed with these objects because they need them to get the drug or else they will go through the withdrawal symptoms mentioned above. You may also notice the presence of tourniquets, mirrors, cellophane wrappers, tin foil, lighters, syringes, rolling papers, etc.

3. Resistance to family or authority

Your family member may resist orders from you, or they may refuse to do anything that is not drug-related. They are all about drugs and nothing else matters in their life. They may also say hurtful things to you and other close family members.

4. Sudden changes in behavior

This can be a combination of several signs, or it can just happen on its own. If your loved one is good at hiding drug abuse from the outside world, they will get better and better at hiding it from you too.

A formerly hard-working adult or teen may suddenly start slacking off work or school. The person may start avoiding friends or family since their time will begin to revolve around the drug. They may be secretive about their finances as well, as they want to have money to spend on drugs.

5. Strange smells

Smelling strange smells could indicate that your loved one is using drugs without you knowing it. You also may notice a scent of alcohol or tobacco coming from their breath or body even though they don’t drink or smoke.

6. Erratic behavior

Your loved one may seem to be sleepwalking half the time. You or others in the same area who are not involved with drugs will often wonder why this person is behaving so strangely. This can be a sign that they are high on some sort of drug, either legal or illegal, depending on if they have a prescription or not.

7. Injuries

If you notice bruises, scrapes, needle marks, burns from cigarettes or lighters, etc., this could indicate that someone close to you is drug-abusing. They may also not know how they got these injuries in the first place.

8. Money changes

You notice that your friend’s spending habits are changing, they’re asking for money all the time, or you see them withdrawing large sums of cash. If they want to go out on the weekend but don’t have enough money, it will be hard for them if they are spending too much on their drug habit. Despite the excessive use of money, you notice the person has nothing to show for it (i.e, rent/mortgage goes unpaid, bills pile up, lack of food in the home, etc.).Many Americans deal with some form of substance abuse. There is no need to feel shame in admitting the addiction. Professional help is available immediately. Read more about where you or a loved one can get treatment for various substance abuse issues.