Common Warning Signs of Drug Abuse

What are the warning signs of drug abuse? How can I tell if my loved one is addicted? I think my friend is addicted, but how do I know? Although it seems difficult to prove a drug addiction, there are many warning signs that strongly point to an addiction. Below are seven common signs of drug addiction. If your loved one is exhibits at least 2 of these, you should help him or her to seek treatment.

Common Warning Signs of Drug Use

1. Lies and Secrecy

Lying and secrecy is the most consistent component of addiction. For an addiction to survive, it must remain secret. Below are common habits of drug-users:
  • A sudden and excessive need for privacy
  • Disappearing for long periods of time
  • Suddenly needing quite a bit more sleep
  • The disappearance of money and possessions (particularly consumer electronics or jewelry)

2. Changes in Personality

A sudden behavioral change is one of the first noticeable signs that something is wrong. Sudden changes in personality include

  • Forgetfulness
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Violence
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of motivation

3. Withdrawal from Family and Friends

Withdrawal is another classic sign of drug addiction. As addicts become consumed with their addiction—and hiding the addiction—they stop communicating with loved ones as they used to and will not participate as much in family or group activities. Hobbies are forsaken and they often spend a lot of time shut up in the bedroom.

4. Changes in Friendships

People hang out with those who are like them, and when old friends don’t tolerate new habits, they find others who do accept them. Although friendships often change over time, a sudden, unexplained, and sometimes drastic, shift in friendships may be a cause for suspicion. Other tell-tale signs include

  • Suddenly avoids the old crowd
  • Doesn’t want to talk about new friends
  • Doesn’t want to bring new friends home
  • Is vague about where they meet new friends

5. Decline in Work or School Performance

 Addicts are completely focused on their addiction, and all other responsibilities are pushed to the periphery—if they’re not pushed off the table all together. The resulting effect is a decline in work or school performance. Since this change may not be sudden, people tend to excuse poor performance for other reasons, such as sickness, stress, or saying “he is just going through a phase.”  However, a persistent, uncharacteristic change probably points to a problem more serious than just “stress” or a “bad day at work.”

6. Evidence of Drug Paraphernalia

No matter how hard the addict works to “cover up,” the addiction will always leave little footprints of evidence, most likely in the shape of drug paraphernalia. Examples of drug paraphernalia include matches, rolling papers, and pipes for drugs that are smoked, empty pill bottles, needles, syringes, tourniquets, and burned tinfoil or spoons. Other clues include hidden stashes of alcohol and even empty beer bottles in the recyclable bin.

7. Physical Signs of Drug Abuse

Does your loved one constantly smell of gasoline? Do they fall asleep at the dinner table and walk around with bags under their eyes? Do they have discolored fingertips, changes in eating and sleeping habits, decreased body hygiene, irritability, nausea and vomiting, or thinning hair? These are all physical effects from the abuse of different drugs which can be easily picked up by observant and informed parents. When these symptoms appear, it is always best to seek a medical evaluation and professional treatment right away.

“My loved one is an addict. What should I do now?”

Identifying the problem is the first step towards a solution, or the first step towards help and recovery. Once identified, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible instead of waiting for a crisis. Calling when you’re suspicious is better than calling when it’s too late. If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, contact a Duffy’s representative at 707-200-6968, and we can direct you on to the next step.