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11 Common Ways to Tell if Someone is on Drugs and Needs Help

By May 12, 2018 December 7th, 2020 No Comments
drug addiction on the old wooden background. White pill, syringe and heroin. Toned image.

Do you have a suspicion that one of your loved ones may be struggling with a drug addiction?

While substance use may initially start small, there’s always the danger that it may develop into a drug addiction. And, without professional help, a drug addiction can have serious consequences. In fact, according to national statistics, 47,000 Canadian deaths are linked to substance abuse annually.

Fortunately, there are many physical and emotional indications that might signify someone is struggling with a drug addiction. And, if caught early enough, addiction can be very treatable with the right programs.

How to tell if someone is on drugs, you ask?

We’ve outlined 11 common signs that are sure to help you determine whether or not your loved one might have a substance problem. If displaying some of these signs, it’s always in their best interest to find an appropriate treatment centre and program.

1. Changes in Appearance

Drug addiction can have serious effects an individual’s appearance biologically speaking as well as mentally.

First and foremost, certain drugs are known to possess negative effects on one’s skin. This can be seen in terms of acne breakouts, dull and drying skin and self-inflicted wounds or scars. Drug addiction can also result in hair loss for both men and women and spouts of baldness.

In terms of physique, drug addiction can often result in sudden weight loss. This is due to the fact that many drugs cause a decrease in appetite and the user fails to prioritize proper nutrition. This weight loss is often most noticeable in the facial regions and also characterized by heavy bags and dark circles under the eyes.

It’s also important to consider the mental effects that drug addiction can have on one’s appearance in addition to the biological effects. Serious changes and deterioration in both hygiene and physical appearance are common amongst those struggling with a drug addiction. This can be seen through:

  • Lack of showering
  • Unkept hair and facial hair
  • Disheveled appearance
  • Unclean clothes
  • Unkept makeup

2. Sleep Habits

Substance abuse is known to wreak havoc on usual sleep patterns.

Those suffering from a drug addiction can develop completely unconventional and erratic sleeping patterns.

Is your loved one keeping off hours, staying up unusually late -especially away from others, or sleeping during the day? If so, these are possible indicators of a substance problem. Users prefer to keep unusual hours that allow them to use in privacy while others are typically sleeping.

For those potentially suffering from a cocaine addiction, you might notice the individual to remain awake and highly alert late into the night. Cocaine causes the user to remain awake for unusually long periods of time. This can also result in a significant crash that leads to excessive sleep patterns throughout the day. Once the individual is awake, you may notice they are easily irritable and apathetic to the day.

3. Financial Troubles

While most studies focus on the emotional and physical tolls of drug abuse, the financial cost of substance abuse is extremely detrimental to the user.

Due to the addictive nature of these substances, addicts spend significant amounts of money and go outside of their budgets in order to get their fix.

Have you noticed your loved one struggling financially or missing important payment deadlines? This can also be signified by unpaid credit card bills, utility shutoffs and a lack of proper food and necessities in the household.

When a user is addicted to a drug, they begin to prioritize the substance above most financial necessities in their life. It’s also worth considering that those suffering from a drug addiction often miss work and may eventually end up unemployed. In these cases, although the paychecks begin the disappear, the need for the substance still continues.

You might notice your loved one begging to borrow money, selling their possessions or even utilizing money loan programs. These factors are all significant characteristics of a potential drug addiction. In this instances, it’s vital not to feed the addiction and resist providing financial relief to the users.

4. Changes in Relationships

Those struggling with addiction are known to act out against those who are closest to them. This often includes immediate family members, partners, friends, and co-workers.

This is especially the case if the user is conscious that these groups might be aware they are using. Due to the guilt often associated with drug use and the fear of being confronted, drug addicts often seek to remove themselves from these relationships. This can be a temporary removal or a long-term removal.

With this removal comes new friendships that are often centered upon the substance. In spending time with other drug addicts, the user experiences reduced feelings of guilt and is able to ignore the negative consequences and realities of the problem.

If you’re worried that your loved one is struggling with a drug addiction and you find them removing themselves from important relationships, this could be characteristic of a drug addiction. This is especially the case if they are beginning to spend most of their time with one person in particular with whom they never had a previous relationship.

5. Isolation

It’s been said many times that addiction is the loneliest disease.

After all, addiction by nature isolates people. Many drug addicts report using substances to cope with depression, anxiety, and high-stress levels. Instead, drug use actually results in worsening mental health and may cause the individual to restrain from social situations.

Those suffering from drug addiction cut people out of their life who were once important to them. This often happens very suddenly and without legitimate reasoning or notification.

Users often disconnect with friends and family and prefer to spend time isolated on their own. Because users are often accompanied by intense feelings of guilt and shame, they favor time away from people and potential judgment.

For those once inherently social but who have removed themselves from these relationships, this may be a sign of drug addiction.

6. Work/School Performance Declines

Drug addiction is often characterized by a decline in the individual’s performance at school or work.

The drug itself can alter the brain’s ability to function and concentrate. For example, marijuana use can result in short-term memory loss, issues with logical thinking and decreased academic or workplace performance.

For students, drug addiction can be signified by a sudden decline in grades, reports of missed classes, incomplete homework and assignments, etc. It can also be marked by a sudden loss of interest in school programs and extracurricular activities that were once important to the individual.

For employees, this is often seen in terms of missed work days, inability to focus, periods of high motivation and excitement followed by very low periods of removal and lack of incentive. It may also be signified by long and sudden breaks from work and a removal from any workplace social interactions.

7. Withdrawal Symptoms

With drug addiction comes a physical dependency on the drug.

And, once the body is no longer receiving the substance, it begins to enter the cycle of withdrawal. This is due to the fact that the body has grown accustomed to the drug and can only function normally with the substance.

Once the drug is taken away, the individual may experience withdrawal symptoms.

While some withdrawal symptoms are internal to the addict, other symptoms are easier for others to witness. These are systems such as:

  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bad temper and irritability
  • Tremors
  • Muscle pain and stiffness
  • Jumpiness

These withdrawal symptoms may begin only a few hours after the last drug was taken. It is also accommodated by more mental symptoms such as extreme anxiety and depression, inability to concentrate and a removal from social situations.

8. Increased Aggression

Anger and drug addiction are intertwined in many ways.

The truth is, those suffering from addiction are hurting. And, in turn, they hurt those around them.

While a drug user may experience feelings of euphoria and joy during the highs, the lows are often accompanied by intense feelings of anger. During these lows, you may notice the individual has increased and very sudden displays of aggression toward others.

Stimulant drugs such as cocaine are especially prone to serious displays of aggression. You might notice the individual exhibits intense periods of excitement and animation followed quickly by extreme outbursts of anger and rage. This is often when the user is coming down from the drug and what leads them to further usage.

This anger is often caused by feelings of anxiety and uncomfortable mental states for the user. For those on the outside, it appears that one simple thing can cause the user to suddenly snap.

If you find your loved one to display unusual boast of aggression, it’s possible they are suffering from a drug addiction. For circumstances such as this, it is important not to confront them during these bursts of anger as these situations can lead to violence.

9. Loss of Interests

Drug addiction can often result in a sense of apathy amongst the user.

For someone who is typically quite active and involved in a number of hobbies, drug addiction can rid of the desire to continue these activities. Talents and skills that the user once possessed may take a backseat and the user will begin to show less interest in maintaining these skills.

While their attention was once focused on maintaining these activities, a shift in focus has taken place. Once the user becomes addicted to a substance, the majority of their attention is turned to feeding the addiction.

If you notice your loved one displaying feelings of apathy, this could be a sign they are struggling with substance abuse. This apathy could be in terms of people, hobbies, talents, side-projects, pets, etc.

10. Depression

Depression is a mental illness that is often co-occurring with drug addiction. In fact, roughly 1/3 of adults with a substance abuse disorder suffer from depression.

While mental health struggles can be common amongst adolescents, parents should look for bouts of depression outside of normal teenage behavior. Signs of depression can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Low mood
  • Irritability
  • Lack of interest
  • Feelings of guilt and despair
  • Unusual sleep patterns

Also worth considering that depression can be seen in bursts and is not always uniform. After all, most drugs will result in a high that produces joyful moods and displays of energy. However, the come down from the high is often marked by symptoms of depression.

And, so, mood swings are often very characteristic of a drug addiction and should be carefully noted in loved ones.

11. Discovery of Drug Paraphernalia

Many drugs require physical objects to compliment use.

If you suspect your loved one may be suffering from a drug addiction, it may be worth searching for the associated drug paraphernalia. This is often found in bedrooms, coat pockets, suitcases, purses and pant pockets.

While it may feel encroaching to conduct such a search, discovering this paraphernalia may be the only way for the user to confess their actions. And, once a user confesses that they are suffering from a potential addiction, they are more likely to accept help in treating the addiction.

Common types of paraphernalia that may be discovered are:

  • Cigarette wrapping papers
  • Bongs
  • Pipes
  • Syringes
  • Spoons, especially burnt ones
  • Razorblades

However, there are also less clear indicators that one might be using. This may include eye clear wash, rolled up bills, tin foil and small surfaces like mirrors or glass in usual areas.

If you find any of the above, carefully consult your loved one at a time in which you suspect they are not currently under the influence of the drug.

Now You Know How to Tell if Someone is On Drugs

After reading these symptoms, you now display a better understanding of how to tell if someone is on drugs and might need help. If your loved one is displaying many or even just a few of these signs, it’s possible they may be struggling with a drug addiction and require an intervention.

If you believe this might be the case, you may want to consider seeking professional help through a rehab center.

Remember that drug addiction is a serious problem that is best treated with professional attention. Our world-renowned accredited treatment and personalized recovery programs have led us to be named Canada’s #1 drug and alcohol rehab center.

Looking to gain more information? You can call us today at 1-855-972-9760 to learn more about how to our treatment and recovery programs work.

We are firm believers in that it’s never too late for a new beginning.

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

We offer residential and outpatient rehab treatment programs for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.

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