Drug abuse results in approximately 40 million cases of serious injuries or illnesses in the United States each year. This not only affects the drug abuser, but their family, friends and community as well. Help prevent the negative impact of drug abuse by learning to recognize the warning signs of drug abuse. Encourage the person to seek treatment before the situation turns dangerous.
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Drug abusers may inadvertently display visual evidence of their drug habits. Signs that they are currently high or intoxicated can include bloodshot eyes, dilated or constricted pupils, impaired coordination, changes in speech patterns, hyperactivity, tremors or unusual smells on their breath, body or clothing. Although drug use does not necessarily mean a person is abusing drugs, people that frequently display signs of being high or intoxicated may be signaling drug abuse. Intravenous drug abusers will often have marks on their arms or legs from the needles.
Personality or Mood Changes
Although slight mood changes are usually not cause for concern, drastic and unexplained changes in personality or mood may indicate drug abuse. These changes will occur for an extended period of time and are usually quite noticeable. For example, a normally quiet and passive person may suddenly become belligerent or aggressive for no apparent reason when abusing drugs. Experiencing unusual hyperactivity or lethargy are also common examples of personality changes due to drug abuse.
Changes in Daily Patterns
Most people have a specific pattern of sleeping, eating and going about daily tasks. When a person is abusing drugs, these patterns usually change. The drug abuser may change sleeping habits, sleeping either much less or much more than usual. He may eat much more or much less than usual. Productivity levels at work, school or even performing household chores or duties also may suddenly seem to increase or decrease. The person may suddenly replace hobbies and even friends that he use to enjoy, or may even drop these things completely.
People abusing drugs will often have an unexplained need for money. Although they may make a good salary, it may seem as if they never seem to have enough money and can’t explain why. If the person does not have a good job, she may be constantly borrowing money and may even be caught stealing in order to feed her drug habit.
Getting Into Trouble
Getting into trouble frequently is another warning sign of drug abuse. This trouble can come in several different forms. Frequently fighting with family members or friends is common, as is getting into verbal and possibly physical altercations with strangers. Not following through on responsibilities, engaging in risky behavior and even legal problems are also common.
Secretive or Suspicious Behavior
Many people abusing drugs will attempt to hide their drug abuse from others. Frequently catching lying about what he is doing with money, how he is spending his time or making illogical excuses for bad behavior may indicate a person is abusing drugs.
Those that suspect that someone living with them is abusing drugs may find household items frequently disappearing. Missing money, jewelry, prescription medications, alcohol or household cleaners may all indicate that someone is stealing these items in order to support a drug habit.
Poor Performance or Attendence
An unexplained drop in performance or attendance and work or school may also be a sign that someone is abusing drugs. Although drug abusers often may make excuses for this, these excuses will eventually prove to be illogical and untrue. Frequent tardiness is also common.
Presence of Drugs or Drug Paraphernalia
Those abusing drugs may be reluctant to keep drugs too far out of reach. Therefore, the presence of drugs or drug paraphernalia in their environment is common. Although the person may lie and say that the items in question are not theirs, finding drugs or drug paraphernalia is a definite warning sign of drug abuse.
Concerned Family and Friends
Family and friends of drug abusers are typically concerned about their drug use or behavior. There may be a sense that the person will do anything to get her next drug fix regardless of consequences. Sudden changes in behavior or personality changes often cause additional concern for family and friends.