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Signs and Symptoms of Abuse and Addiction


Many people can keep their drug use hidden from even their closest friends and relatives for years. The need to keep taking drugs makes them experts at using these substances covertly, even as they maintain their daily responsibilities. But this secretive behavior only leads to drug addiction – as the individual will not reach out for help from those around them. Therefore, it is important for loved ones to know how to spot the signs and symptoms of drug abuse, and to have a working knowledge of what to do if they discover that their child, parent, sibling or friend needs professional help.

Drug Addiction Signs and Symptoms

According to the National Drug Center Alliance, there are certain signs and symptoms of drug addiction that are evident in most people who are addicted to drugs. Specific symptoms of abuse and addiction will vary somewhat depending on the particular drug abused; however, these symptoms are apparent across most addictions.

If you suspect that someone you love is abusing drugs, it is vital to keep an eye out for the signs and symptoms of this behavior. Why? Because very few addicted individuals will admit that they have a problem or seek help on their own. It is therefore incredibly important that family and friends ask themselves the following questions about the behavior of the individual:

  • •Is the individual performing poorly at work or school? Sudden dips in performance on the job or in the classroom are often signs that an individual is using drugs.
  • •Does the individual no longer have an interest in their favorite activities? Drug abuse leads many people to lose interest in the hobbies and activities they once held dear. To these men and women, drugs become the only thing in their lives worth pursuing.
  • •Has the individual been borrowing money? Drug addiction and drug abuse cost money, and the individual will often come up with a number of creative excuses as to why they need to borrow money.
  • •Has the individual stolen money? If you find money missing from a purse or wallet, be smart. Consider whether or not the individual had access to these things. Try to remember that this is NOT the same person you love – and that the addiction is causing them to act in ways they would never have considered when sober.
  • •Is the individual showing any physical signs of drug abuse? Sometimes those addicted to drugs may have bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils. Cocaine users may have itchy or running noses all the time. Marijuana users may have a chronic cough or bloodshot eyes. Heroin addicts who are shooting the drug with needles may have scars and scabs on their arms or legs.
  • •Is the individual moody? Those addicted to drugs may experience strong, unexpected mood swings as they go from euphoria to drug withdrawal and depression in the blink of an eye. If your loved one seems irritable and withdrawn after being happy and stimulated, drugs may be to blame.
  • •Is the individual sleeping erratically? Often those who abuse drugs regularly have irregular sleeping patterns – staying up for days on end and then “crashing” and sleeping for long periods of time.

How to Help Drug Abuse Victims

The chances are slim that your loved one will simply wake up one morning and declare that they are ready to enter a drug rehab program. That means it will fall upon you, the friend or family member, to help guide that individual into treatment.

This can best be accomplished through a drug intervention. An intervention is a chance for concerned parties to gather together and address the individual (in a non-confrontational manner) about their drug abuse problem. These meetings can often grow heated and in some cases violent, so it is recommended that a professional interventionist is present to help the intervention stay on track. A professional interventionist will also help you plan the meeting, ensuring that it has a clear progression.

The end goal of an intervention is to get the individual to admit that they have a problem and enter into treatment immediately. For this reason, it is important to have the individual’s bags packed, and a rehab center aware that you will be bringing someone in for admission.

Once the individual is in a treatment program, you can still help them with their recovery from addiction.  Support them by attending family counseling sessions, and being there on visiting days to tell them how proud you are of what they are trying to accomplish. Also, when they leave the treatment program, encourage them in their sobriety.

If you’d like more information on addiction treatment centers that can help your loved one achieve recovery, call us. We are here to answer any questions you have.

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