Although different drugs have different physical effects, the symptoms of addiction are similar. If you recognize yourself in the following signs and symptoms, talk to someone about your drug use.
Common symptoms of drug abuse
- Neglecting responsibilities at school, work, or home (e.g. flunking classes, skipping work, neglecting your children).
- Using drugs under dangerous conditions or taking risks while high, such as driving while on drugs, using dirty needles, or having unprotected sex.
- Experiencing legal trouble, such as arrests for disorderly conduct, driving under the influence, or stealing to support a drug habit.
- Problems in your relationships, such as fights with your partner or family members, an unhappy boss, or the loss of friends.
Common symptoms of drug addiction
- You’ve built up a drug tolerance. You need to use more of the drug to experience the same effects you used to attain with smaller amounts.
- You use it to avoid or relieve withdrawal symptoms. If you go too long without drugs, you experience symptoms such as nausea, restlessness, insomnia, depression, sweating, shaking, and anxiety.
- Loss of control over your drug use. You often do drugs or use more than you planned, even though you told yourself you wouldn’t. You may want to stop using, but you feel powerless.
- Your life revolves around drug use. You spend a lot of time using and thinking about drugs, figuring out how to get them, or recovering from the drug’s effects.
- You’ve abandoned activities you used to enjoy, such as hobbies, sports, and socializing, because of your drug use.
- You continue to use drugs, despite knowing it’s hurting you. It’s causing major problems in your life—blackouts, financial issues, infections, mood swings, depression, paranoia—but you use it anyway.
Warning signs that a friend or loved one is abusing drugs
Drug abusers often try to conceal their symptoms and downplay their problem. If you’re worried that a friend or loved one might be abusing drugs, look for the following warning signs:
Physical warning signs
- Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual
- Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
- Deterioration of physical appearance, personal grooming habits
- Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing
- Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination
Behavioral warning signs
- Drop in attendance and performance at work or school
- Unexplained financial problems; borrowing or stealing
- Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors
- Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies
- Frequently getting into trouble (fights, accidents, illegal activities)
Psychological warning signs
- Unexplained change in personality or attitude
- Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts
- Periods of unusual hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness
- Lack of motivation; appears lethargic or “spaced out”
- Appears fearful, anxious, or paranoid