Pay attention to the people around you they could be using and abusing. Keep reading for drug abuse: how to recognize when someone has a problem.

In 2017, 19.7 million Americans aged 12 or older battled a substance use disorder or drug addiction.

According to Mayo Clinic, the more somebody uses a drug, the more it takes to achieve its intended effect. This dependence can result in intense cravings for the drug throughout the day, and withdrawal symptoms can take a severe toll on the body and mind.

Drug addiction can cause long-term mental, physical, emotional, and even sociological damage — which is why it’s important to know how to recognize when someone has a problem.

Here’s How to Recognize When Someone Has a Problem 

Please note that these symptoms aren’t always caused by drug addiction. Many of them might have other explanations, like stress, traumatic events, mood disorders, or physical ailments. However, if you notice most of these symptoms present in a loved one, it might be time for an intervention.

Physical Clues

Someone who has recently used drugs might exhibit one or more of the following:

  • Glazed or bloodshot eyes.
  • Dilated or constricted pupils.
  • Sudden weight loss or gain.
  • Change in appetite.
  • Problems falling asleep or sleeping too much.
  • Looking “unkempt,” neglecting one’s appearance and/or personal hygiene.
  • Poor physical coordination: loss of balance, slowed reaction times, or slurred speech.
  • Unusual body odors.

Behavioral Clues

In addition to the above, someone who’s recently used drugs might also exhibit some of the following long-term patterns:

  • Problems at work or school: decreased attendance, reduced performance
  • Unexplained financial problems: borrowing or stealing
  • Participating in secretive or suspicious behaviors
  • Sudden, explained changes in friends, hangouts, or hobbies
  • Frequently getting into trouble: fights, accidents, illegal activities

Psychological Clues

Many behavioral and psychological clues tend to overlap, so if you notice a change in one type, it’s best to pay attention to both. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Unexplained change in personality or attitude
  • Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts
  • Unusual periods of hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness
  • Lack of motivation: seems lethargic or “spaced out”
  • Appears fearful, anxious, or paranoid
  • An overall loss of interest in work, school, or other priorities

How to Intervene

If you notice several of the above symptoms in a loved one, talk to them about it first. Avoid using the words “drug addiction” and other related terms, as this might come across as an accusation and thus trigger a defensive response, inhibiting any sort of productive conversation.

Instead, ask general questions, like: “I’ve noticed you seem a little more tired than unusual. Anything going on?” “Have you been getting enough to eat lately?” “How is everything going at work or school?”

Asking these questions will demonstrate a genuine interest in the other person’s wellbeing. While this might encourage them to be open and honest with you, it might not always result in success. If that’s the case, it might be time to consider the benefits of suboxone detox centers.

Final Notes

Just because someone uses drugs doesn’t automatically make them an addict. In other words, occasional or recreational drug use is not a sign of abuse.

Addiction is the physical dependency caused by prolonged usage. This has a variety of physical, behavioral, and psychological effects, depending on the type of drug abused.

Now that you know how to recognize when someone has a problem, visit our blog for treatment options and other details on how to support a drug addict.