Substance abuse has become a major problem in the United States, affecting people of all ages across the country.
If you suspect a friend, family relative, or co-worker is abusing drugs, you may want to watch for some of the more common signs of substance abuse.
In this article, you will discover five signs of substance abuse as well as what you can do to help.
5 Signs of Substance Abuse and Addiction
On the surface, these signs may seem like a gradual change in behavior. While this may be the case for some, it’s often an indication of substance abuse.
Here are five of the most common signs of substance abuse to consider if you think someone may be abusing drugs:
1. Disinterest in School, Work or Regular Activities
It is true that not everyone enjoys going to school and work. But even though they hate it, they still go and participate to have a successful reward at the end, like a diploma or a paycheck.
Those abusing substances can seem to not even care about these types of rewards. They become disengaged and lack concern that they may fail a class, not graduate, or lose employment. This is because their main focus is on the substance they are abusing.
They may even be avoiding activities they once enjoyed to participate in getting drunk or high.
2. Change in Appearance
People go through phases in their life where they wear different clothing, change their hairstyle or copy the style of others, especially celebrities. However, these fads are usually temporary and are done by many people in society.
Someone with a substance abuse problem is not interested in following a trend. Instead, they are not interested in their appearance much at all. They may not take care of themselves like they once did. Their grooming practices may decline.
Furthermore, the clothes they start wearing may even be inappropriate, as well as dirty. They may not even be aware they have made these negative changes in their appearance.
You can look out for bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, disheveled hair, and mismatched apparel. Any or all of these can be signs of substance abuse.
3. Drastic Changes in Behaviors
If the one loving and kind person you know is suddenly angry and aggressive, they may be suffering from a substance abuse problem. Abuse of alcohol and drugs often makes people feel irritable and because they are only focused on continued use, it can make them exhibit negative behaviors.
The opposite can be true also. If a person is typically negative and mean, and all of a sudden they are extremely happy and cheerful, this could be a sign of abuse of a mind-altering substance. One that should not be ignored, even if the outcome is that they are easier to deal with.
Other behavior changes include defensiveness when asked if they are abusing substances. Or, oversensitivity, chronic dishonesty, paranoia, silliness or giddiness, and an overall lack of caring for anything they once found important.
4. Money Issues
One of the most common signs of substance abuse involves money. People who abuse substances often become addicted, which impairs their ability to make smart, financial decisions.
It doesn’t matter how responsible you are – an addiction will quickly push your responsibilities off the list of priorities you need to handle, including rent, bills, and groceries.
This is where you come in.
Related: Effects of Drug Addiction on Family Members
If someone with an addiction is fortunate to call you a friend or relative, he or she will likely ask you for financial help. If you loan money to this person, you can rest assured it will not be paid back. Furthermore, this person will turn to you again in the near future – most likely apologizing for not paying you back the last time and assuring you that things are looking a lot better.
Loaning money to this person may help keep the lights on for one more month, but doing so also enables their addiction.
5. Physical Changes
Those who abuse substances often begin to change physically. Some lose a lot of weight, while others gain weight, both without trying. In some users, you will notice hands shaking which could signal a physical addiction or withdrawal effect.
Other physical changes may include a tired appearance due to lack of sleep, excessive talking, or poor coordination.
If you suspect someone is abusing substances, it’s important to consider whether or not these symptoms are normal behavior or new behavior.
How You Can Help
If someone you know displays one or more of these signs of substance abuse, it’s important to discuss your concerns.
Depending on the progression of the addiction, your words may fall on deaf ears. People who abuse substances or live with addiction often lie and deny they have a problem.
If this is the case, tough love may be necessary. However, this is something you should be careful exploring, as it could backfire and result in a lost relationship.
Seek help from an established sober living community that provides substance abuse treatment and addiction treatment programs provided by caring professionals.
Photo by Debby Hudson