Signs And Symptoms Of Drug Abuse In Adults
Its important to know the signs and symptoms of drug addiction. Alcohol or drug addiction changes the way a person looks, acts and feels. The symptoms of substance use disorders are linked to changes in the body, behavior and emotions. Thankfully, you can discover when a friend or family member has become addicted to drugs by observing the following signs of substance abuse in adults.
Warning Signs Of Drug Abuse
Use of recreational drugs, over the counter medications or prescription drugs can lead to substance use issues. It can frequently lead to problems at work, home, school, and in relationships, and leave the user feeling isolated, helpless, or shamed. If youre worried about your own or a loved ones drug use, its helpful to know the warning signs and more importantly, that help is available and treatment works.
Common signs and symptoms of drug abuse
- Risk taking when youre using, such as driving, having unprotected sex
- Neglecting responsibilities at school, work,or homr
- Legal trouble, such as arrests for disorderly conduct, driving under the influence
Physical warning signs of drug abuse
- Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual
- Changes in appetite, sleep patterns, physical appearance
- Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing, or impaired coordination
Behavioral signs of drug abuse
- Drop in attendance and performance at work or school
- Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors
- Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies
Psychological warning signs of drug abuse
- Unexplained change in personality or attitude
- Sudden mood swings, irritability, spaced-out, or angry outbursts
- Appears fearful, anxious, or paranoid, with no reason
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Common Physical Symptoms Of Drug Withdrawal
Drug withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the type of drug that was used. Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild physical discomfort to severe life-threatening symptoms such as seizures or cardiovascular collapse. In general, a handful of common physical withdrawal symptoms include:4
- Sweating and/or chills.
- Confusion or difficulty thinking clearly.
- Poor concentration.
Levels of various neurotransmitters that help to regulate moods, induce feelings of happiness, and are crucial for learning habits, are impacted by drug abuse and dependence.5, 6 During drug withdrawal, the body may be depleted of these neurotransmitters, which contributes to individuals feeling some of the symptoms of the above list.
Irritability is a symptom of many different substances withdrawals.4 During drug withdrawal, individuals often have trouble thinking clearly and concentrating, and short-term memory functions may be impaired.
Individuals may be at a higher risk for depression, leading to suicidal thoughts, ideations, or actions during drug withdrawal, making medical detox and professional help all the more necessary.4
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Psychological And Emotional Signs Of Drug Addiction
Drug addiction alters perception, can distort thinking, creates emotional imbalances, and leaves sufferers with a damaged sense of self-esteem.
The psychological and emotional characteristics of drug addiction include:
In the early stages of a persons descent into addiction, friends and family members may not understand what is happening. Or, they may have suspicions but still be uncertain.
Either way, they will know something is terribly wrong with their loved one, who may attempt to hide what theyre thinking and feeling but wont be able to do so completely.
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When Drug Use Becomes Drug Abuse Or Addiction
Of course, drug useeither illegal or prescriptiondoesnt automatically lead to abuse. Some people are able to use recreational or prescription drugs without experiencing negative effects, while others find that substance use takes a serious toll on their health and well-being. Similarly, there is no specific point at which drug use moves from casual to problematic.
Drug abuse and addiction is less about the type or amount of the substance consumed or the frequency of your drug use, and more about the consequences of that drug use. If your drug use is causing problems in your lifeat work, school, home, or in your relationshipsyou likely have a drug abuse or addiction problem.
If youre worried about your own or a loved ones drug use, learning how drug abuse and addiction developsand why it can have such a powerful holdwill give you a better understanding of how to best deal with the problem and regain control of your life. Recognizing that you have a problem is the first step on the road to recovery, one that takes tremendous courage and strength. Facing your problem without minimizing the issue or making excuses can feel frightening and overwhelming, but recovery is within reach. If youre ready to seek help, you can overcome your addiction and build a satisfying, drug-free life for yourself.
Risk factors for drug addiction
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Symptoms Of Prescription Depressant Abuse
As the user develops an addiction to prescription depressants, he or she will need higher doses to achieve the same effects. This is particularly dangerous because depressants lower blood pressure, heart rate, and slow breathing, which can result in an overdose. Depressant overdoses can decrease the amount of oxygen to the brain and even cause users to stop breathing entirely, which can lead to brain damage or death.
Dont allow depressant addiction to get to this point by learning how to recognize the symptoms of drug abuse disorder before irreversible damage happens.
Behavioral symptoms of depressant abuse may include:
- A reliance on the drug to sleep or perform regular activities
- Reckless behavior related to use of the drug
- Obtaining the drug illegally
- Dilated pupils
Drug Abuse & Addiction
People who abuse drugs may be using cocaine, heroin, morphine, LSD, marijuana, sedatives, speed, PCP, ecstasy, prescription pills and other substances.
You may be at higher risk for drug abuse if you:
- Suffer from social and peer pressure, depression or panic disorders
- Have access to drugs
- Spend time with people who take drugs
- Have family members who abuse drugs
- Are male
Signs of drug abuse include:
- Problems at work, school or home
- Using drugs even if it risks physical safety
- Trouble with law enforcement that stems from drug use
- Continuing to use drugs even though using them causes problems
Drug dependence sets in after long-term, compulsive drug use. Thats because your body starts to need higher doses of drugs in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
You may be dependent on drugs if you:
- Crave drugs
- Are unable to stop or limit drug use
- Take greater amounts of drugs to feel the same effect
- Have withdrawal symptoms when you stop using the drug
- Spend a lot of time getting drugs and recovering from their effects
- Give up activities so you can use drugs or recover from use
- Use drugs even after they cause health or psychological problems
- Want to stop but cant
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What Is Substance Abuse Disorder
Substance abuse disorder, or drug addiction, can be defined as a progressive disease that causes people to lose control of the use of some substance despite worsening consequences of that use. Substance use disorder can be life-threatening.
Addictions are not problems of willpower or morality. Addiction is a powerful and complex disease. People who have an addiction to drugs cannot simply quit, even if they want to. The drugs change the brain in a way that makes quitting physically and mentally difficult. Treating addiction often requires lifelong care and therapy.
Problems With Work School Or Run
The longer a substance abuse problem lasts, the more a person will experience negative consequences. If a person was once doing well at school and then suddenly drops out or is continually getting fired from their job, then substance abuse may be playing a role in their downward spiral. Another symptom of drug abuse is having continual legal problems. Stealing, DUIs, possession charges are all red flags to look out for.
The most important thing to remember is to trust your instinct. If something seems odd or you feel that something is going on, then it is worth looking into. It is better to confront someone about suspected drug use and be wrong than to not say anything at all and be right. One of the worst feelings a parent can have is to have something bad happen knowing that they didnt say or do anything out of fear of upsetting someone.
If your loved one is displaying any of these symptoms, then the situation is worth investigating. The more signs that person is showing, the more severe the problem will be. It is always a good idea to reach out for help from a professional in order to receive guidance on what to do next.
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Drug Addiction Treatment Options
When some people struggle with addiction, they may deny that they have a problem. Others may be reluctant to enter treatment due to cost, fear, or lack of support. However, once they overcome any reservations and are ready to enter treatment, there are several types of addiction treatment options to choose from.
- Inpatient treatment: This type of treatment offers 24-hour supervised care in a comfortable, safe setting. Inpatient rehab typically uses a variety of therapeutic approaches including individual and group therapy sessions.
- Outpatient treatment: With outpatient rehab, patients live at home and go to treatment during the day. Common levels of care in outpatient rehab include standard outpatient, intensive outpatient , and partial hospitalization .
In inpatient or outpatient rehab, patients can also be assessed and treated for dual diagnosis, which means they have two or more conditions presenting at the same time or one after the other.
Common Signs Of Drug Use And Addiction
The editorial staff of Rehabs.com is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands of pages for accuracy and relevance. Our reviewers consistently monitor the latest research from SAMHSA, NIDA, and other reputable sources to provide our readers the most accurate content on the web.
Substance use disorders are a complex condition in which a person cannot control their use of a substance despite having negative consequences.1 Individuals with an SUD are often focused on using a specific substance to the point where their use affects their day-to-day life.1 The most severe form of SUD is addiction.1
SUDs can lead to problems at home, school, or work and can have devastating effects on ones emotional and physical wellbeing. If you are worried about your own or a loved ones drug use, knowing the common signs of drug use and treatment options is important. Read on to learn about the behavioral, emotional, and physical changes that may occur from specific drugs.
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Why Does Withdrawal Occur
When someone regularly drinks alcohol or uses certain drugs, their brain may begin to adjust to the presence of these substances. They may eventually become physiologically dependent on their substance of choice and utterly reliant on it to function and feel normal.
In people who develop significant levels of dependence, withdrawal is often an inevitable response to the sudden absence or declining blood concentration of a given substance. Withdrawal symptoms may develop when a substance-dependent person quits a substance cold turkey or substantially reduces how much they are using. During withdrawal, the body attempts to reach a new state of homeostasis as it rids itself of any lingering chemical influence of the drug in question. This can result in temporary disruptions in brain chemistry and may be accompanied by significant mental and physical health repercussions.
American Addiction Centers offers unique care for every single patient that walks through our facility doors. Using evidence-based therapies and treatments, our team of medical professionals can help you recover from your substance addiction. Give us a call today to learn more at
What Are The Most Common Drug Addiction Symptoms
Every drug is different, and so too are the symptoms associated with various addictions. The following signs and symptoms tend to run across most major drug addictions.
Mood swings. Drug addiction can elicit a wide range of emotions in the individual. They may experience feelings of euphoria and excitement when under the influence, but then crash to the lowest of depressive states when in between doses. These mood swings can have a significant impact on the individual and those closest to them.
Nervousness. Many drug addicts are constantly nervous or seem restless. In between doses of their drug they may find it difficult to sit still. Or in the case of cocaine addiction or other stimulant dependence, the effects of the drug itself may cause nervous behavior.
Illness. Drug abuse is not a healthy lifestyle. Many people will see several different aspects of their physical health suffer as a result. In addition to the strain that drug addiction puts on the liver, heart, kidneys, and other vital internal organs, overdose is a constant threat and one that can land the individual in the hospital for an extended period of time.
Sleeplessness. Individuals with a drug addiction are often unable to sleep through the night. They may suffer from insomnia or will be incredibly difficult to wake up in the morning.
New peer groups. Many addicts will forgo their old friends and valued relationships in exchange for a new peer group that is more accepting of drug use.
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What Are Physical Signs Of Drug Abuse
Some of the most noticeable symptoms of drug use are those that affect certain physiological processes. For example, your bodys tolerance to a drug develops when a drug is used long or often enough that it adapts to the consistently elevated presence of the substance. When tolerance grows, increased quantities or strengths are required to achieve the previous effects.1
Individuals using a drug to get high may come to take such large doses to overcome their tolerance that they place themselves at increasing risk of potentially fatal overdose.3
Changes in appearance can be additional clues to possible drug use and may include:4
- Bloodshot or glazed eyes.
Changes To Physical And Mental Health
It may be possible to recognize addiction if someones health changes for the worst. Drug addiction is associated with a variety of health issues, including:
Bloodshot or glazed eyes
Memory loss or problems with recalling information
Apathy, or lack of motivation or care
Suicidal thoughts or self-harm
Its important to remember that health changes can occur for other medical reasons besides drug addiction. Its also common for those with drug addiction to downplay the seriousness of any health problems they are experiencing. If you are concerned about someones declining health and well-being, and there is no other explanation, there is an increased chance of a hidden addiction.
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Seeking Treatment For Drug Addiction
Depending on your specific goals and needs, there are many types of treatment programs and supportive resources available for drug addiction. Treatment may include:
Detox: Under medical supervision, your body can safely adjust to not using drugs.
Medication-Assisted Treatment : Prescription drugs like Naltrexone and Buprenorphine can reduce cravings for drugs.
Counseling and therapy: Individual or group therapy sessions, or a combination of both, can help you manage your emotions in a private, judgment-free environment.
Support groups: These groups bring together individuals with drug addiction. Your fellow peers act as a support system for each other throughout recovery.
Treatment for other medical conditions: Medical services can manage and treat any of the short- and long-term health effects associated with drug addiction.
Treatment for mental or behavioral health needs: You can receive prescribed psychiatric medications for mental health needs, such as depression or anxiety, that occur at the same time as drug addiction.
There isnt an overnight cure for drug addiction, but with treatment, it is possible to get better over time. Treatment builds a solid foundation of physical and mental strength, as well as a system of support to rely on for help.
If you recognize these symptoms, no matter the type of drug addiction, seek help today. Contact us to learn more about starting treatment.
Effects Of Drug Addiction On Pregnant Women
Research shows that pregnant womens tobacco, alcohol, illicit, or prescription drug use can cause severe health consequences for their infants. This is because many drugs pass easily through the placenta and reach the fetus. As a result, smoking marijuana or tobacco, taking prescription painkillers, or using illegal drugs during pregnancy can triple the chances of having a stillbirth.
Drug withdrawal symptoms can develop in babies for up to 14 days after their birth. Symptoms of drug withdrawal in newborn babies include:
- Abnormal sucking reflex
- Sudden infant death syndrome
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How Might Substance Use Disorder Affect Me
Drugs affect the brain, especially the reward center of the brain.
Humans are biologically motivated to seek rewards. Often, these rewards come from healthy behaviors. When you spend time with a loved one or eat a delicious meal, your body releases a chemical called dopamine, which makes you feel pleasure. It becomes a cycle: You seek out these experiences because they reward you with good feelings.
Drugs of abuse send massive surges of dopamine through the brain, too. But instead of feeling motivated to do the things you need to survive , such massive dopamine levels can lead to damaging changes that change thoughts, feelings and behavior. That can create an unhealthy drive to seek pleasure from the drug and less from more healthy pleasurable experiences. The cycle revolves around seeking and consuming drugs to get that pleasurable feeling.
Addiction to drugs changes the brain over time. It affects how the brain works and even the brains structure. Thats why healthcare providers consider substance use disorder a brain disease.
The first use of a drug is a choice. But addiction can develop, creating a very dangerous condition. Drugs affect your decision-making ability, including the decision to stop drug use.
You may be aware theres a problem but unable to stop. With addiction, stopping drug use can be physically uncomfortable. It can make you sick and even become life-threatening.