Drug abusers often try to conceal their symptoms and downplay their problem. If you’re worried that a friend or family member might be abusing drugs, look for the following warning signs:
Physical warning signs of drug abuse
• Bloodshot eyes or pupils that are larger or smaller than usual.
• Changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Sudden weight loss or weight gain.
• Deterioration of physical appearance and personal grooming habits.
• Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing.
• Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination.
Behavioral signs of drug abuse
• Drop in attendance and performance at work or school.
• Unexplained need for money or financial problems. May borrow or steal to get it.
• Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors.
• Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies.
• Frequently getting into trouble (fights, accidents, illegal activities).
Psychological warning signs of drug abuse
• Unexplained change in personality or attitude.
• Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts.
• Periods of unusual hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness.
• Lack of motivation; appears lethargic or “spaced out.”
• Appears fearful, anxious, or paranoid, with no reason.
Warning Signs of Teen Drug Use
There are many warning signs of drug use and abuse in teenagers. The challenge for parents is to distinguish between the normal, sometimes volatile, ups and downs of the teen years and the red flags of substance abuse.
• Being secretive about friends, possessions, and activities.
• New interest in clothing, music, and other items that highlight drug use.
• Demanding more privacy; locking doors; avoiding eye contact; sneaking around.
• Skipping class; declining grades; suddenly getting into trouble at school.
• Missing money, valuables, or prescriptions.
• Acting uncharacteristically isolated, withdrawn, or depressed.
• Using incense, perfume, or air freshener to hide the smell of smoke or drugs.
• Using eye drops to mask bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils.
Drug addiction and denial
One of the most dangerous effects of drug abuse and addiction is denial. The urge to use is so strong that the mind finds many ways to rationalize the addiction. You may drastically underestimate the quantity of drugs you’re taking, how much it impacts your life, and the level of control you have over your drug use. Denial is an unconscious defense mechanism. Minimizing and rationalizing the addiction is less scary than admitting that your drug use is dangerously out of control. But the cost of denial can be extremely high—including the loss of important relationships, your job, financial security, and your physical and mental health.
The Friday Bulletin/issue no 418