Signs and Symptoms of Drug Abuse and Addiction

Substance abusers are often the last ones to recognize their own signs-symptoms of abuse, dependence and addiction. Even when they know they have a problem, drug abusers often try to downplay their drug use and conceal their symptoms.

If you suspect that a friend or loved one is abusing drugs, there are a number of warning signs you can look for.


  • Changing several friends or changing peer groups
  • Suddenly popular with friends who are older and unknown to family
  • Becoming involved with peers when formerly isolated from peers
  • More frequent phone calls
  • Social activities occurring more often, sometimes at odd hours
  • Thrill seeking behaviors – evidenced by law breaking, promiscuity (pregnancy) and other dangerous physical situations


  • Isolation from family members (hiding in room, locking bedroom door, and avoiding family activities)
  • Exhibiting negative attitude toward rules and parents
  • Failing to follow through on promises
  • Sneaking out of the house
  • Becoming manipulative
  • Lying


  • Lacking motivation and lower grades
  • Sleeping in class
  • Skipping class or school
  • Dropping out of school activities
  • Becoming disrespectful of teachers, administrators, and rules
  • Frequently being disciplined
  • Suspended or Expelled


  • Smelling of alcohol, marijuana, or stale smoke
  • Frequent minor illnesses (headaches, nausea, slight tremors, flu-like symptoms, vomiting, sluggishness)
  • Neglects taking prescribed medications or takes more medications than usual
  • Memory lapses
  • Weight changes or unusual eating patterns (types of foods, amounts, time of day)
  • Frequent use of eye drops for bloodshot eyes
  • Change in normal sleep patterns (frequent naps)
  • Injuries occurring more often
  • Frequent infections or infections which don’t heal
  • More frequent complaints of pain or illness


  • Shoplifting or stealing from family members
  • Unruly behaviors like skipping school and not following family rules
  • Incidents or charges for public intoxication, DUI, vandalism, breaking and entering, underage alcohol/tobacco use
  • Involved in car accidents or near misses
  • Selling drugs


  • Impaired judgment (putting self in dangerous situations)
  • Talking about or attempting suicide
  • Violent or threatening (verbally or physically)
  • Lethargic or apathetic
  • Mood swings
  • Burned Out
  • Operating at an inappropriate maturity level


  • Poor management of money
  • Spending large sums of money and asking for money
  • Having drug paraphernalia in bedroom or school locker
  • Reading drug oriented magazines
  • Wearing drug oriented clothing and accessories
  • Using drug slang, talking about drugs

Many people who don’t think of themselves as drug abusers can become dependent on chemical substances, either legal or illegal. A common thread that runs through all drug abusers is loss of control.

What are the effects of drug abuse?

In addition to lifestyle changes, drug abuse can have serious short-term and long-term medical effects, such as;

  • Dangerous heart rate increase and/or blood pressure
  • Hepatitis or AIDS through shared needles
  • Sleeplessness and tremors
  • Liver, lung, and kidney impairment
  • Sudden death (from misuse of inhalants, heart attack or stroke)


Drug withdrawal refers to the signs-symptoms
that appear when a drug that causes physical dependence (used regularly for a long time) is
suddenly discontinued or decreased in dosage.

Drug withdrawal symptoms can vary significantly
among individuals, but there are some commonalities;

If the withdrawal is extreme enough, it could drive the individual to continue the drug despite significant harm to themselves or even to suicide.

Addiction should be carefully distinguished from physical dependence.

Addiction is a psychological compulsion to use a drug despite the harm that often persists long after all physical withdrawal symptoms have faded away.

Physical dependence (or drug dependence) refers to a state resulting from the habitual use of a drug, where negative physical withdrawal symptoms result from abrupt discontinuation. Symptoms include;

  • increased heart rate and/or blood pressure
  • sweating and tremors are common signs of withdrawal.

Also, the length and the degree of an addiction can directly relate to the severity of the withdrawal.

More serious symptoms such as confusion, seizures, and visual hallucinations indicate a serious emergency and the need for immediate medical care.

What should you do if you suspect drug abuse or addiction in yourself or others?

Both drug abuse and drug addiction can be successfully treated, but the treatment process is much easier and much more likely to be successful if it is started early. So don’t delay. You can and should intercede as soon as you suspect drug abuse.

To start the process, you can get information leading to help for yourself or a loved one from physician, or from a good treatment center such as Narconon on this Recovery Network website.

Many resources appear in the listings below, including:

Drug Rehab Texas

Bay Area Recovery Center, drug rehab Texas We offer a real solution to individuals affected by alcoholism and drug addiction.

Today’s treatment programs offer organized and structured services with individual, group, and family therapy for people with drug abuse problems. Research shows that when appropriate treatment is given and when a prescribed program is followed, treatment can work.

There are addiction treatment centers available for substance users to recover from their chemical dependency.

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