If you are concerned about signs of substance abuse, there are some important points to keep in mind. First, physical symptoms can vary from drug to drug. As an example, a person who is abusing alcohol can show entirely different physical symptoms than a person who is using marijuana.
Second, there are numerous signs of substance abuse that can also be caused by something else. Anything from a medical problem to stress can appear on the surface as if the person is using drugs.
The key to recognizing drug abuse is change. While changes may appear suddenly or gradually, when someone has a drug problem you will see changes. As soon as you notice changes, it is time to investigate the cause.
Substance abuse leads to personality changes. Changes may be radical or relatively minor, but they should be easy to recognize and difficult to ignore. Whether he becomes withdrawn and depressed, or argumentative and confrontational, his personality will seem uncharacteristic of his usual self.
Changes in his attitudes and behavior can also occur when a person is abusing drugs. He may become irresponsible, have trouble making sound decisions, act without thinking about the consequences, and become impulsive. The addict in your life may expect you to make excuses for him, and blame everyone other than himself for his behavior.
Lifestyle changes are often a part of substance abuse. One common factor is a person’s new approach to privacy. If he does not want you to know he is using drugs, he can be irrational about his desire for privacy. This can include where he spends his time, with whom he spends his time, what he is doing with his time, and wanting to keep everyone out of his personal spaces such as his bedroom.
Signs of substance abuse also include changing friends and pastimes. He may have stopped associating with his old friends, and found new associates. His new friends are likely to be individuals who use drugs.
You may notice the pastimes he enjoyed before are no longer as important to him. He may have given up his favorite hobbies, sports, and other recreational activities. His priorities may have changed to acquiring drugs, using drugs, and associating with others who have the same lifestyle.
Changes in appearance or grooming should also alert you to the possibility of drug use. If addiction has taken over, personal grooming may no longer be as important as it was in the past. He may also show a radical change in clothing styles. This is especially true of many young people who are involved with drugs.
While health problems that occur from drug abuse also vary from drug to drug, you should be able to notice changes in his general health. A person who is abusing drugs on a regular basis will not be as healthy as he was before.
It can range from noticeable changes in his sleeping habits, to noticeable changes in weight, to general unwellness. Any significant changes in his health should be brought to the attention of his physician. The cause may be drug abuse, or he may have a serious medical problem.
No one wants to think about the possibility that someone in their family has a drug problem. Unfortunately, this can lead to ignoring signs that should be obvious. This mistake can stand in the way of obtaining help for a family member, when early intervention can increase his chance of a full recovery.
If someone in your family is showing any of these signs of substance abuse, talk to him or talk to your doctor. Regardless of the approach you take, do it as soon as possible. Even if it is difficult to acknowledge that he has a drug problem, getting the right help may save his life.