Red flags for drug abuse differ according to the type of drug being abused. For example, someone using methamphetamine or cocaine will act fidgety and manic while people abusing heroin or prescription pain pills may “nod off” frequently and slur their words. However, there are a standard set of drug abuse warning signs that apply to all drug addicts regardless of their drug of choice.

5 Behavioral Signs of a Drug Abuser

  • Refusing to admit they are abusing drugs even when they are caught using, lose their job because of job use or become involved with the police due to their addiction
  • Stealing money or valuables from family members and friends to fund their addiction
  • Manipulating others to distract from their addiction. For example, a son addicted to methamphetamine may blame his sister for money missing from their mother’s purse. Drug abusers will go to any lengths to hide their addiction–and that includes pitting family members against each other
  • Blaming work bosses or co-workers for repeatedly getting fired from jobs. “The shift manager always hated me. He told the manager I stole something when he was the one who actually took it!
  • Having a new set of “friends” family members have never met before. These so-called friends are likely to be dealers, people who know dealers and fellow addicts

5 Physical Signs of Drug Abuse

  • Abnormal pupil sizes ranging from pinpoint pupils (indicates stimulant abuse) to large, dilated pupils (indicates depressant abuse)
  • Frequent nosebleeds when the person never experienced nosebleeds in the past. Snorting cocaine, meth or Adderall destroys nasal tissues rapidly, leading to rupturing of capillaries in the nasal passageways
  • Rapid weight loss. Drug abusers will spend all their money on drugs and drug paraphernalia. An addict’s diet typically consists of soda and snacks bought at convenient stores.
  • Inattention to personal hygiene. Addicts will wear the same clothes for several days in a row, neglect oral hygiene, not take showers, etc.
  • Appear as though they have the flu frequently. When addicts can’t get high, withdrawal symptoms will set in–fever, congestion, sweating, tremors, vomiting and overwhelming fatigue. Nothing relieves withdrawal symptoms except getting high.

5 Psychological Signs of Drug Abuse

  • Acute personality changes. For example, someone who used to be extroverted and pleasant to be around becomes less communicative, isolates themselves from family and friends and lashes out irrationally when confronted with this change
  • Paranoid and/or delusional thinking. All addictive drugs cause dramatic alterations of brain chemistry that leads to abnormal thought patterns. Methamphetamine and cocaine abusers often claim they are being followed by law enforcement or people “out to kidnap them”. They may cover their windows with foil or even sleep in a closet because of drug-induced paranoia
  • Sudden mood changes that typically involve the person erupting aggressively for no apparent reason. Drug abusers who seem euphoric may abruptly start crying or threatening suicide as well
  • Total lack of impulse control. Someone who, in the past, would never think about hitching a ride home at midnight or bringing home strangers from bars may be abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Inability to concentrate or focus on completing tasks. Drug abuse can make it nearly impossible for a person to fill out simple forms, understand what they read or remember who they spoke to the previous day

Get help for yourself or a loved one by contacting America’s Rehab Campuses today. We provide addiction treatment assistance for individuals who need inpatient, outpatient, intensive outpatient or partial hospitalization programs.