What are the Signs of Drug Abuse?

When a person is struggling with drug abuse, obtaining drugs becomes the primary focus of life. The importance of family, friends, and work falls by the wayside as the drug user spirals into addiction. The signs of abuse may vary, as different drugs cause different effects on the mental and physical health of the abuser, but the overall signs of substance abuse remain the same.

Drugs such as cocaine which act as stimulants, rev up the body. A drug abuser who is addicted to drugs like cocaine will often be unable to sleep. The abuser's metabolism and blood pressure level may increase as well. Other drugs that slow down the body, such as barbiturates, will lower blood pressure levels and mental alertness. Even the abuser's breathing will slow down.

People who are struggling with drug abuse will experience other physical symptoms depending on the type of drug being abused. Those who abuse stimulants may behave in a hyperactive manner or experience an abrupt weight loss. People who abuse drugs like barbiturates will require excessive amounts of sleep or experience drastic weight gain. They may move more slowly, exhibit slower speech, appear disoriented, or seem confused.


Drug addicts may abruptly begin to change their way of dressing. Those who inject drugs with needles might begin to wear long-sleeved shirts all the time in hopes of hiding their arms. People who snort drugs may suffer from chronic nosebleeds or sinus problems.

Drug abusers who smoke drugs may experience frequent cases of bronchitis or chronic coughs. Their coughs may produce large amounts of blood or mucus. Substance abusers who abuse the drug methamphetamine may even be plagued with serious dental problems.

The emotional signs of substance abuse are just as varied as the physical signs. For example, some addicts may have difficulty controlling their tempers, easily becoming angry or agitated. They may even resort to violence.

Other addicts may remain persistently cheerful, talkative, or energetic. On the other hand, some drug addicts may appear overly calm and emotionally distant, unaware of the world around them. Some addicts will look depressed or suffer from hallucinations and delusions.

Teenagers dealing with drug abuse may display drastic changes in behavior. They may suddenly begin having difficulties at school or appear more withdrawn. Some teens who are addicted to drugs may either be unable to sleep or desire to sleep all of the time. Perhaps they have new friends they have begun to associate with or have developed the habit of stealing. A combination of these factors may suggest that a teen has developed a drug addiction.


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Post 4

I had heard rumors that my good friend was using and making meth, but I chose to believe him when he said he was clean. However, after another friend told me about the signs of a meth abuser, I could see for myself that he was lying.

He would go on sprees where he had to work on something for hours. He would take apart guitar amplifiers just to put them back together, and it made no sense.

He would seem to have boundless energy for about three days, and then I could not get in touch with him for several days. During this time, he crashed and slept it off, and he didn’t even answer the phone or the door.

Post 3

@shell4life - I agree with you. Adolescent drug abuse is really hard to spot, because hormonal changes and peer pressure are doing a number on these poor kids, anyway.

I thought that my best friend in junior high was abusing drugs. She kept losing weight, and she never seemed interested in going out with our group to eat. She also mysteriously never showed up to lunch in the cafeteria.

I asked her if she was using drugs, and she laughed. She told me that she was just watching her weight. Not long after that, I saw her in a swimsuit, and I could see her bones.

I figured out then that she was anorexic. So, any drastic change in behavior is cause for alarm, regardless of the cause.

Post 2

I knew something was wrong when my usually cheerful, bubbly friend became suddenly sullen and started getting dark circles under her eyes. She lost her sense of humor and snapped at me when I asked her what was up with her.

She had just started dating a guy in a rock band, and she had fallen madly in love with him. So, she got sucked into his world and his lifestyle. She never would have done something like this on her own.

I organized a drug abuse intervention with her family and other friends. At the intervention, she burst into tears, because it turned out that the guy had just dumped her. She was already hooked on drugs, but she wanted out, and she was really moved that we all showed her support at exactly the perfect time.

Post 1

One of the many peer pressure problems encountered by youth is drug abuse. If a teenager’s friends are doing it, then she is so much more likely to do it to fit in than an adult with good sense who has learned not to care what people think if it involves damaging her own body.

With teens, it’s often hard to tell if they are abusing drugs, because they are so moody, anyway. My neighbor’s daughter became so mean and distant to her mother once she hit thirteen, and she wasn’t even on drugs. However, my niece, who began behaving the same way at the same age, was abusing drugs.

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