Drug abuse is becoming an epidemic in the United States today. From opiates to newer designer drugs such as bath salts and ecstasy, we are seeing an entire generation abusing powerful drugs that often lead to addiction. In many cases, there are warning signs of drug abuse. We have put together a series of the most common signs of drug abuse and addiction to help families identify suspected drug abuse or signs of addiction.

Drug abuse is becoming an epidemic in the United States today. From opiates to newer designer drugs such as bath salts and ecstasy, we are seeing an entire generation abusing powerful drugs that often lead to addiction.

In many cases, there are warning signs of drug abuse. We have put together a series of the most common signs of drug abuse and addiction to help families identify suspected drug abuse or signs of addiction.

Drug Addiction and Substance Abuse

Drug addiction, or Substance Use Disorder (SUD), is a very prevalent issue that impacts the mental processes and behavioral components of a person. The development of this issue is attributed to the dependence and tolerance of a particular substance.

Signs of Drug Use

Drug addiction can stem from the simple use of a substance in social situations. In other moments, it may be the misuse of a prescribed medication that belongs to either the user or more often, their family member or friend. After a while, a person may feel the need to increase their dosage or amount of a substance and this is where tolerance takes over. A person cannot achieve the same effect of a drug unless they increase their dosage and frequency of taking the said drug.

Having the inability to control or subdue usage of a substance is also a problem because it highlights a person’s dependence on a substance. When a person decides to quit their drug use they may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. These signs of drug abuse are quite common; however, they vary in severity.

Drug Addiction Signs

Although the abuse of every substance is not always followed by observable signs and symptoms, in many cases there are clear signs of drug abuse. Specifically, the symptoms experienced by drug addicts follow both physical and behavioral differences of which include the following:

Physical Signs of Drug Abuse

Many of the most noticeable symptoms that result from drug addiction are those that affect or disrupt the body’s internal functioning. These cause a change in physical appearance and may include:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Glazed eyes.
  • Dilated or constricted pupils.
  • Abrupt weight changes.
  • Bruises, infections, or other physical signs at the drug’s entrance site on the body
  • Constant stuffy or running nose


What Are the Signs of Drug Abuse
What Are the Signs of Drug Abuse?

Behavioral Signs of Drug Abuse

As users become more dependent on drugs, their behavior is negatively affected. This may be due to the fact that increased drug use can reshape the brain’s processes and cause its focus to shift and prevent the development of coherent thoughts. As a result, some of the behavioral differences that occur include:

  • Intense urges for the drug that block out other thoughts
  • Having the need to use the drug on a daily basis
  • Taking larger amounts of the drug over a longer time than intended
  • Spending money on the drug thus causing financial strain
  • Stealing to get access to the drug or becoming involved in criminal activity
  • Failing in your attempts to quit
  • Engaging in risky activities when under the influence of the drugs
  • Increased aggression or irritability
  • Lethargy or decreased interest and involvement in recreational activities
  • Dramatic changes in habits or priorities
  • Changes in attitudes, perception, and personality
  • Changes in mood, which sometimes lead to depression
  • A sudden change in the social group- usually to people who support your activity or behavior

Signs of Marijuana Abuse

The use of cannabis is so popular that people use it for various things like smoking, eating or inhaling it in a vaporized form. It is often used before or along with other substances like marijuana and is known to be the first drug that people try. The signs of Marijuana abuse include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased coordination
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
  • Anxiety or paranoid thinking
  • Exaggerated cravings for certain foods at unusual times
  • Slowed reaction time

The long-term abuse of Marijuana is also typically associated with:

  • Reduced number of friends
  • Decreased interest in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Decreased mental sharpness

Signs of Meth Abuse and Signs of Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine and Meth are often used and abused by persons who are in need of an energy boost or searching for a “high”. They may also be misused by those who want to improve their performance at school or work or by those who seek to control their appetite or lose weight. The signs of meth and signs of cocaine abuse are:

  • Increased energy and restlessness
  • Increased alertness
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability, anxiety or paranoia
  • Depression, when the effect of the drug fades away
  • Changes in behavior, such as aggression
  • Feelings of exhilaration and overconfidence
  • Confusions, delusions, and hallucinations
  • Changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
  • Nasal congestion

signs of drug use

Signs of Xanax Abuse

Xanax and Valium along with Soma have become very popular for young adults and older adults for abuse. Often times drugs such as Xanax is prescribed by a doctor to treat anxiety. People abusing Xanax will often take more than the prescribed amount and mix other substances such as opiates and alcohol.

These substances are depressants that are prescribed for the central nervous system. They are often misused by people who seek to escape stress-related thoughts or feelings and who may be in search of relaxation. Some of the symptoms of Xanax abuse and signs of Xanax abuse include:

  • Dizziness
  • Lack of inhibition
  • Memory problems
  • Irritability or changes in mood
  • Lack of coordination
  • Problems with concentrating or thinking clearly
  • Slowed breathing and reduced blood pressure
  • Drowsiness
  • Involuntary eye movement

Signs of Hallucinogens

The most common hallucinogens are lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), phencyclidine (PCP) and magic mushrooms. Due to the different variations of this drug, the symptoms may differ. However, some common symptoms of hallucinogens include:

  • Rapid shifts in emotions
  • Tremors
  • Flashbacks
  • Rapid shifts in emotions
  • Reduced perception of reality or hallucinations
  • Rapid heart rate and high blood pressure
  • Permanent mental changes in perception

Signs of Inhalants Abuse

Inhalants can be found in almost every single everyday product that we use in our homes and are quite easily accessible, this category of drugs range from cleaning products all the way to personal grooming products which include things such as gas/petrol nail polish and nail polish remover, paint, glue and even degreasing products. Similarly, to hallucinogens, the signs of inhalants abuse vary and depend upon the type that is used. These include:

  • Brief euphoria or intoxication
  • Dizziness
  • Combativeness or belligerence
  • Involuntary eye movement
  • Decreased inhibition
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Tremors

Signs of Opiate Addiction

These drugs are narcotic, pain-killing substances that are designed specifically to reduce or prevent pain. This category includes morphine, heroin, codeine, oxycodone and several others. Because there is a desire to lessen pain, the use of this drug has increased at a very alarming rate. Some of the signs of opiate use and signs of heroin use include:

  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Lack of awareness or inattentiveness
  • Loss of memory
  • Sedation, agitation or drowsiness
  • Reduced sense of pain

Signs of Other Abused Drugs

Club drugs, K2, Spice, and bath salts are also among the drugs that are most abused by drug users. Although the symptoms above are very repetitive and somewhat exhaustive, the effect of each drug may be different for many users and the symptoms, therefore, are very diverse.

KOAT Reports Signs Your Loved One Is an Addict

Signs of Shooting Up

Drugs can be administered and abused in a number of ways. Because of this diverse mechanism, some people may choose to consume them orally, or by smoking, snorting or injecting them. Whatever method is used to take the drugs, there still is a cause for concern; however, the practice of injecting drugs or “shooting up” is more dangerous and heightens the complications that drugs users or drug addicts face.

What are the Signs of Shooting Up?

“Shooting up” is the process of injecting drugs, by way of a needle, directly into the bloodstream. Many drug users resort to this method because they quickly achieve the desired result (a high intense feeling of euphoria); but, it also comes with an intoxicating feeling that contributes to drug addiction and other health-related issues. Despite having knowledge of those things, many users still engage in the injection of drugs because they perceive that the benefits outweigh the negative outcomes.

Additionally, those who inject drugs may experience a prolonged use of the substance as a way to avoid the situation that first led to them to take the drugs. This prolonged use may also be attributed to the fact that after users take a dosage of the drugs, they experience euphoria and then a crash period that is extremely unpleasant.

How are Drugs Injected

Drugs can be administered or injected in several places. However, the three main ways of injecting drugs are:

  • Intravenous- injected directly into the veins
  • Intramuscularly- injected directly into a muscle
  • Subcutaneously-injected directly into the tissue layer between the skin and the muscle

Commonly Injected Drugs

The drugs that are commonly used by those who choose to get an injection can be very dangerous and may result in the death of that individual. The risk of using these drugs is extremely high because some persons have lost their lives by just trying some of them for the first time. As such, these drugs include:

  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Opioid painkillers
  • Prescription stimulants

Signs That a Person Is Shooting Up

With any addiction, there are various signs that are shown. Some are very common across the addiction spectrum; but where “shooting up” is concerned, there are specific signs that help people to recognize the uniqueness of their situation. These include:


  • severe weight loss
  • injection site marks or track marks – unusually dark colored veins extending down the
  • arm
  • collapsed veins or venous injury
  • bruising- this may be attributed to blood leakage that occurs as a result injecting drugs
  • into the veins.
  • puffy hand syndrome- this is due to a contaminant of heroin, called quinine and occurs
  • when the back of the hands become puffy, except for the fingers


    Feelings of depression and anxiety

  • suicidal thoughts and actions
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Low energy
  • Marked slowing down in actions and speech. (these may be particularly intense if the user is in full withdrawal from ice)

Other Health Effects of Injecting Drugs

Because of the dangers associated with injecting drugs, the list of health-related issues that arise can become very exhaustive. Nonetheless, it is important to become aware of these conditions:


Users are at a high risk for getting this virus because they may share needles. The sharing of needles mean that users become exposed to the germs and bacteria of another person and since the drug is injected into the bloodstream, the transmission of this disease is very fast and likely.

Skin infections

Some of these include cellulitis and abscesses

Swelling of body parts

Such as the feet, ankles, and legs- this is due to poor peripheral blood flow

Cardiovascular infections

Such as bacteria on the cardiac valves and endocarditis Inflammation or clogged vessels- these include damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs, and brain.

What to do if you suspect someone is shooting up

Although many people experience problems that are sometimes seen as too overwhelming or unbearable, it is important to provide help for them or help them to seek help from professional individuals that are better equipped to assist them.

  • Referrals to drug addiction for treatment programs such as a substance abuse treatment facility, residential drug treatment facility, or inpatient drug rehab
  • Testing for HIV, Hepatitis C, STDs, and tuberculosis

Seeking Help for Drug Abuse

If any of these signs of drug abuse appear in you or your loved one we highly recommend considering professional help such as a substance abuse treatment facility, residential treatment facility or inpatient drug rehab. Once the residential portion of drug abuse treatment is completed sober living is recommended while continuing outpatient substance abuse treatment and attending 12 step meetings.

Remember that you can get into treatment without fear of losing your job under FMLA.

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Great Article on the signs of drug abuse

My son has been acting strange and many of the signs of drug abuse  helped me in knowing for sure that he needed to get help