Woman addicted to drugs

Most of the time, drug abuse becomes very evident when a person is already in too deep. As it often happens, people only realise the problem when it is already severe.

At this point, rehabilitation and the eventual stoppage of abusive use of drugs become more difficult. Success and ease of stopping drug abuse depend on how early the problem is addressed. Hence, it is important to identify the problem early on. The signs and symptoms are usually too subtle to get anyone’s attention. To an informed person, these signs won’t be easily overlooked.

Signs and symptoms that may indicate an ongoing problem with the improper use of drugs include:

Physical signs and symptoms

Improper use of drugs affects the normal functioning of the various organs and systems. Changes in physical appearance are usually one of the earliest symptoms. These changes are typically shrugged off thinking that the person might be under too much stress lately or trying to lose weight or merely going through a phase. Stop these thoughts and confront the possibility of a drug problem.

Changes that may be seen in someone addicted to drugs include:

  • Eyes look glazed or bloodshot
  • Pupils look constricted or dilated for no apparent reason, i.e., remain dilated even under bright lights, etc.
  • Weight changes are abrupt, especially if the person has not been trying any new diet or exercise
  • Physical signs of drug administration such as needle marks, bruises, even signs of infections on the skin area

Behavioural symptoms

Drugs alter the normal functioning of various organs in the body, especially the brain. These alterations can cause changes in behaviours and personality, such as:

  • Lethargy or the person looks unusually sleepy most of the time even though the person is not known to stay up late or lose sleep
  • Increased irritability or aggression, especially for people who used to be mild-mannered and recently becomes more aggressive
  • Changes in personality or attitude, sometimes becoming the opposite of the usual personality, i.e., person becomes more socially withdrawn when previously socially adept
  • Changes in the person’s type of social network, e.g., the person with suspected drug abuse may be seen hanging out with people quite unlike the person’s usual crowd
  • Depression
  • Dramatic alterations in priorities and habits, such as suddenly not caring about what people think while the person used to be a social, amiable person
  • Financial problems or person is starting to show signs of having problems about “having enough money”; usually stems from spending more on drugs and wants to spend more
  • Involvement in crime-related activities, which usually starts with petty thievery and progressing to larger crimes

Steps to take if you think you are addicted to drugs

If the person becomes secretive or becomes aggressive when asked about these changes, consider that as a red light. Once these signs and symptoms are observed, take immediate action. Successfully stopping drug abuse depends on early identification of the problem and early onset of appropriate treatment and interventions. Never procrastinate. Do not get caught trying to justify the symptoms and try to cover it up. Get help. The life of the person starting to abuse drugs depends on immediate intervention. There are many organisations, outreach groups and clinics ready to provide assistance.

Step 1 Recovery can help. Click here to learn more about our drug addiction treatment centre.