Signs That Someone Is on Drugs – Drug addiction is a devastating and potentially life-threatening disease that dramatically impacts the lives of those suffering as well as their loved ones. Although any intoxicating substance can be abused, some drugs have a higher risk of abuse and addiction than others.
It’s vital to recognize signs that someone is on drugs as soon as possible, so an intervention can be staged before his or her condition gets even worse. Moreover, the longer and more heavily a person abuses a substance, the more difficult it is to stop due to intense cravings and the development of withdrawal symptoms.
There is a myriad of common signs that someone is on drugs, as well as symptoms that are unique to the drug being used. Being able to identify these signs can help a person recognize when a loved one is using drugs and at high risk for severe consequences to their health, career, academic performance, or social life.
General Signs of Drug Abuse
If a person is abusing any substance, there are many universal signs to look for, such as the following:
- Difficulties at school, a loss of interest in school-related activities, tardiness, absenteeism, and declining or failing grades
- Poor work performance, being late to work repeatedly, and appearing tired and unconcerned with work responsibilities
- Altered physical appearance, such as wearing dirty, disheveled or inappropriate clothing and appearing to be disinterested in personal grooming or hygiene
- Changes in behavior, such as an increasing desire for privacy and isolation
- Significant adverse changes in relationships
- A noticeable lack of energy when engaging in daily activities
- Spending more money than they were previously, requesting to borrow money, or outright stealing from friends, family, and others
- Problems with financial management, such as not paying bills when they are due
- Changes in eating habits, such as a decreased appetite and related weight loss or significant weight gain
- Bloodshot eyes, poor skin tone or sores and blemishes, and appearing tired and fatigued
- Defensiveness and denial when confronted about substance abuse
Signs of Abuse Associated with Specific Drugs
In addition to the universal signs of drug abuse, specific signs of abuse are linked to particular kinds of drugs.
A person abusing stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamine (meth) may exhibit behavior changes, excessive talkativeness, increased energy, elevated mood, overly-inflated confidence, and accelerated breathing and heart rates. In some cases, users may exhibit paranoia and engage in aggressive or hostile behavior. If users snort drugs, nasal congestion and nosebleeds are also common symptoms of abuse.
Sedatives—Barbituates and Benzodiazepines
Certain depressants are prescribed to treat anxiety, panic, seizures, and insomnia. Benzodiazepines (benzos) include common medications such as Xanax and Valium.
Due to their high potential for overdose, barbiturates are not prescribed as much as they once were, but they are still sometimes used for the treatment of seizure disorders. Benzos have since became the preferred medications for these conditions.
A person who abuses any of these drugs may appear to be lethargic, dizzy, or depressed. They may complain of blurry vision, exhibit impaired coordination problems, and appear disoriented and confused.
Opioids include prescription painkillers, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, and illicit drugs, such as heroin. Signs of opioid use include profound sedation, memory impairment, difficulty concentrating, longer reaction times, lethargy, and mood swings. Since opioids can decrease activity in the digestive system, users sometimes also experience constipation.
Staging an Intervention
If you believe you are seeing signs that someone is using drugs, please seek help immediately. You or someone close to them may have to stage an intervention one or more times before he or she accepts treatment. An intervention is a structured discussion held between loved ones and the person abusing drugs or alcohol, often moderated by an interventionist or other addiction professional.
Effective interventions can help friends and family to express their feelings in a constructive manner. Interventions also reveal to addicts how their behavior impacts those they love. The goal is to help the person who is suffering make the decision to seek and receive addiction treatment.
When to Intervene
Addiction can be a very tough conversation to have with someone who is suffering from it. Many times, the loved ones of someone struggling with addiction are unsure of what to say. Furthermore, almost all addicts will initially deny that they have a problem, so open dialogue may be difficult to establish.
How to Stage an Intervention
Contact an Interventionist
To stage an intervention, seek out a person who specializes in interventions to ensure that conversation between all parties involved is productive. Hiring an interventionist is often the key to helping the addicted person reconsider their denials and face up to the reality of their condition.
In some cases, attempting to help an addict without professional support may actually make the problem worse. The addicted person may become defensive and hostile, and immediately deflect any legitimate concerns you bring up and instead point the fingers back at you and your own problems. Interventions work best with authoritative professional assistance that can prevent the addict from thwarting this process.
Form Your Intervention Group
After an interventionist has been contacted, they will begin to help the family and friends of the addicted person develop an intervention strategy. Each intervention is unique, as is the person suffering and his or her loved ones, so an interventionist will interview each concerned party to customize the plan to address each person’s specified needs.
People who will likely participate include spouses, siblings, parents, adult children, close friends, and sometimes co-workers. The intervention group may also benefit from the inclusion of the person’s minor children or grandparents, but they must be informed and able to tolerate intense moments that may occur during the intervention.
Learn and Rehearse
The specialist will teach the participating group members about addiction and recovery, and impart the knowledge required for the compassionate support the addict needs. To make sure that the intervention goes as smoothly as possible, group members must first rehearse and be prepared.
Typically, the person struggling with addiction is oblivious to how their decisions have impacted the people they care about around them. Drug abuse alters brain chemistry, causing the person to prioritize drug acquisition and use above all else in their life.
During an intervention, group members should have pre-written narratives that have been reviewed and approved by other group members. These stories are conducive to triggering a “moment of clarity” for the addicted person when they can finally begin to comprehend the damage their addiction has been causing themselves and others.
Be Prepared for Any Outcome
It’s impossible to predict an addict’s exact response to a confrontation. However, interventionists are professionally trained to deescalate hostile situations, so they may are nearly essential to maximize the chances for success.
Also, even in the face of a well-planned intervention, the person may refuse to seek treatment. Sometimes it takes more than once to convince the person that this is the best and only acceptable course of action. The important thing is to keep trying and never give up.
Treatment for Drug Addiction
Once a person accepts treatment, the next step is typically medical detox followed immediately by participation in a comprehensive treatment program. Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers these programs in both partial-hospitalization and outpatient formats.
During treatment, several different evidence-based approaches are incorporated, such as psychotherapy, counseling, education, and group support. These services are facilitated by caring addiction professionals who provide patients with the tools, resources, and support they so desperately need to be successful in their recovery.
We help people suffering from addiction restore sanity to their lives and begin to experience the happiness and harmony they deserve. Call us as soon as possible to find out how we can help!