Warning Signs of Substance Abuse in a Loved One



Suspecting someone may have a substance abuse problem is a stressful time. It's crucial to be sure before taking steps to help them because being wrong can seriously damage your relationship. Knowing the signs of substance use and abuse can help you gauge whether enough signs are adding up to substance abuse or if there may be something else going on.


Physical Signs of Substance Use

To identify substance abuse, it's essential to be able to identify substance use. Using substances doesn't necessarily mean that a person is abusing or addicted to them; however, being able to identify the signs that someone is using them may help you determine the frequency and identify behaviors.


The physical signs of drug use:


  • Red or irritated eyes

  • Pupils that are strangely dilated or constricted

  • Strange smells

  • Excess salivation or lip-smacking

  • Bloody nose with no apparent cause

  • Shaking

  • Sweaty palms

  • Burned fingertips

  • Rapid breathing


These are some of the most common signs of drug use. Many of these signs can be symptoms of other diseases or conditions; someone with sweaty palms and rapid breathing might just be having a panic attack or have a chronic condition. Tread carefully when assuming someone is using drugs.


Physical Signs of Drug Abuse

Drugs have a profound effect on a person's body. Long-term use and abuse can present in appetite, sleep patterns, and physical appearance changes. While we commonly associate drastic weight loss with substance abuse, some people experience weight gain instead. Be aware of large fluctuations either way. This applies to sleep patterns as well. Suddenly sleeping little is a common sign, but a need to sleep constantly may also be an indicator.


There may also be a noticeable lack of energy when performing daily activities. This can be seen in work ethic, physical capabilities, and grooming habits.


Another sign might be visible on the face. Some drugs often cause the eyes to be bloodshot, and other physical symptoms like sleep loss might exacerbate that. There may also be changes in complexion like acne, paleness, and even jaundice. You might see scabs, scars, bruises, or track marks elsewhere on the body.


Behavioral Symptoms

There may be many small changes to behavior during substance abuse, but the most significant can include ignoring responsibilities like work, school, or family. This can also present problems like social dysfunction. These can extend into secretive behavior, as the addicted person withdraws from loved ones and searches for somewhere private they can use drugs.


Financial distress is also common, as drugs can be expensive. As a result, they may borrow money consistently, without having any real reason for it, and sell their belongings to get more money.


Risky behavior is also a common sign. Such as driving while intoxicated or performing dangerous tasks while impaired.


Psychological Symptoms

People struggling with substance abuse may be depressed and anxious. Loss of interest and low self-esteem are common and may present as poor motivation. In addition, irritability and mood swings are common, showing sudden aggression or agitation and unpredictable temperament.


Remember if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, you're not on your own. Call (501) 319-7074, it’s confidential and anonymous.


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