Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

Peachtree Recovery Solutions

Signs That Someone Is on Drugs

Home » Blog » Signs That Someone Is on Drugs

Drug abuse and addiction continue to have a devastating effect on individuals and families across the United States and throughout the rest of the world. When you know how to tell someone is on drugs, you’ll be prepared to recognize if a person in your life is in danger, so that you can help them stay safe and find appropriate treatment.

Drug Abuse vs. Drug Addiction

Before we delve into how to tell someone is on drugs, it’s important to clarify what we’re talking about when we discuss drug abuse and drug addiction. Some people view these terms as synonymous – and while they are definitely related, there are important distinctions between them.

  • Drug abuse refers to the misuse of alcohol, prescription medications, and any other mind-altering substance. Taking pills that weren’t prescribed to you, drinking past the point of intoxication, and using heroin are all examples of drug abuse. 
  • Drug addiction is a behavioral health disorder. The clinical term for this condition is substance use disorder. Addiction is characterized by overwhelming compulsions and a loss of control over one’s thoughts and behaviors, especially as far as substances are concerned.

To summarize: Drug abuse is a behavior. Drug addiction is a disorder. 

In today’s post, we’re going to discuss both of these concerns. In the next section, we describe how to tell someone is on drugs. Later in the post, we discuss the warning signs that someone’s drug use has turned into an addiction.

How to Tell Someone Is on Drugs

If you’re trying to learn how to tell if someone is on drugs, your knowledge of the individual can be extremely important. 

Changes in appearance, attitude, and behaviors can indicate that someone has been using a substance. When you are understand how a person usually looks and acts, this familiarity can help you note changes that may not be immediately noticeable to others.

Since different drugs impact different people in different ways, it would be virtually impossible to list all the potential warning signs. However, with that in mind, the following are examples of some of the more common signs of drug abuse:

Physical Signs 

On their own, none of the following physical signs are definitive proof that a person has been using drugs. But if someone demonstrates several of these symptoms, along with certain psychological and behavioral changes, they may be engaging in drug use:

  • Glassy or watery eyes
  • Dilated (wide open) or constricted (pinpoint) pupils
  • Scabs, sores, abscesses, and other skin damage that never seem to heal
  • Weakness, exhaustion, and lethargy
  • Impaired coordination

Psychological Signs

Of course, it can be extremely difficult to determine what’s going on in someone else’s mind. But if you pay attention to a person’s words and actions, you can often tell if they have been experiencing the following types of psychological changes:

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Difficulty concentrating and focusing
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Racing thoughts
  • Delayed cognition
  • Changes in confidence and self-esteem
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Paranoia

Behavioral Signs 

The behaviors listed below can be warnings signs that someone has begun to abuse drugs on a regular basis, which could mean that they are at elevated risk of addiction:

  • Acting with uncharacteristic impulsivity or recklessness
  • Exhibiting outbursts of sadness or anger for no apparent reason
  • Sleeping much more (hypersomnia) or much less (insomnia) than usual
  • Eating much more or less than usual, which can result in unintentional weight gain or loss
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Lying or being otherwise deceptive about how they’ve been spending their time and who they’ve been associating with
  • Having unexplained financial problems
  • Frequent absenteeism from school or work
  • Drop in performance at work or in school
  • Wearing long sleeves and long pants, even in warm weather (which may be an attempt to hide evidence of IV drug use)

Signs of Drug Addiction

As we noted earlier, drug abuse can lead to addiction. Someone who exhibits the following signs may have become dependent on alcohol or another substance:

  • Spending significant amounts of time seeking, using, and recovering from the effects of drugs
  • Having powerful cravings for alcohol or another drug
  • Failing to meet their responsibilities at home, in school, or at work as a result of their drug use
  • Minimizing or ending their participation in hobbies or other recreational or social activities because of their drug use
  • Continuing to use drugs even after incurring physical, psychological, or social damage due to previous use
  • Using drugs in a manner that is especially hazardous, which can include driving while under the influence or taking multiple drugs at the same time (a behavior that is sometimes referred to as polysubstance abuse)
  • Developing tolerance, which means that drugs don’t have as strong of an impact on them, so they need to use larger amounts to achieve the effects they are seeking
  • Experiencing physical and/or psychological withdrawal symptoms when they try to end their drug use, or when they’re prevented from acquiring and using the substance
  • Having a desire to end their drug use, but being unable to do so

Anyone who exhibits the signs of drug addiction should be assessed by a qualified healthcare provider. 

With proper care, people who have become dependent on alcohol or other drugs can end their substance use and achieve lasting recovery. But if they don’t get the help they need, they may remain at risk for myriad catastrophic outcomes, including (but by no means limited to) severe physical and psychological damage, overdose, and death.

Find Comprehensive Drug Treatment in Atlanta

Peachtree Recovery Solutions is a trusted provider of premier treatment services for adults who have become addicted to alcohol, prescription painkillers, and other substances. 

Treatment options at our drug rehab facility in Atlanta, Georgia, include a detoxification program, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), an intensive outpatient program (IOP) with both day and evening options, and traditional outpatient treatment. We also offer gender-specific services for men and women as well as a vibrant aftercare program.

To learn more about how we can help you or a loved one, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.