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What Are Common Signs of Drug Abuse?

What are common signs of drug abuse? It can be hard to determine when a friend or family member is abusing drugs. Many drug users are able to hide their use fairly well to avoid being found out. Drug abuse is when the person is using the drug beyond the point of social or recreational use. They are using at times that are irresponsible and can lead to serious problems such as using drugs while on the job, at school, driving, taking care of children, etc. These are examples of times that put the drug user and others at risk. If drug abuse is addressed early they may never have to experience the downward spiral of full drug addiction.

Very seldom does the drug user recognize their drug abuse problem. It is often left to the family, friends, teachers, employers and those close to the drug user to bring the problem to light. There are times when those around the drug user are unsure if they really have a problem and want to know what are the common signs of drug abuse? Use the following questions as a benchmark to figure out if the person you care about has a drug abuse problem.�'

  • Are their personal relationships in trouble?
  • Are they having trouble at work or school?
  • Are they in trouble with the law?
  • Has their health been affected by their drug use?

If the answer is yes to any of the above questions it is likely that your loved one has a drug abuse problem. While it is not a sure sign that drugs are the culprit, you can be sure that they are struggling with one or more areas of their life and could use your assistance. Speak up now before things begin to spiral more out of control as it is important to their wellbeing. Let them know that you are there for them and want to support them. They may not be open to discussing the issue at first but in time they may come around.

When you are looking for information on what are the common signs of drug abuse there are a myriad of things to watch for: changes in behavior, attitude, appearance, friends, or activities. While many of these changes can be brought about by stress, depression and other problems they are an indicator of an underlying problem. The National Library of Medicine states the telltale signs of drug abuse include:

  • A change in friends or hanging out with a new group
  • Changes in behavior and attitude
  • Decrease in school or work performance
  • Failing family relationships
  • Getting in trouble with the law
  • Lengthy, unexplained absences
  • Lying and stealing
  • Obvious intoxication, deliriousness, becoming incoherent or unconscious
  • Reclusive behavior (long periods spent in self-imposed isolation)

You may be curious about the physical signs of drug abuse. Here are the most common ones:

  • Slowed or staggering walk; poor physical health
  • Red, watery eyes; the drug user’s pupils may be larger or smaller than usual; blank stare
  • Cold, sweaty palms; having shaking hands
  • Puffy or swollen face, blushing or paleness
  • Smelling of the drug or alcohol on their breath, body or clothes
  • Extreme hyperactivity; excessive talkativeness
  • Runny nose; hacking cough
  • Nausea, vomiting or extreme sweating
  • Tremors or shakes of hands, feet or head
  • Needle marks on lower arm, leg or bottom of feet

There are also some items that are often found on or around drug abusers. They include:

  • missing aluminum foil -or- foil found in strange places (like under a bed)
  • small rolled up balls of foil in soda cans or bottles
  • bent spoons
  • LOTS of lighters
  • Rolled up bills or paper
  • Cut drinking straws
  • Glass pipes
  • Powder residue in places there shouldn’t be
  • Pens that have been taken apart

Keep in mind that when a person abuses drugs or alcohol they are often using it as a way to self-medicate or find an escape from the issues that are really troubling them. Finding help for these people early on may hopefully avoid a dark future. Caring about someone who has a drug abuse problem means that you need to speak up and not let the situation escalate.�' When family, friends, and associates of the drug abuser allow that individual to continue using, their behavior is called enabling. Stop the process by reaching out to a professional in the field of drug abuse and addiction. They will be able to further guide you in what the next step should be for your loved one.


  • The mixture of Lortab and alcohol can cause serious damage to the liver, kidneys, and stomach wall.
  • Mixing prescription drugs with alcohol may lead to respiratory depression, coma, and death.
  • Prescription drugs are the second most-abused category of drugs after marijuana among young people in the United States.
  • Late-onset problem drinking among the elderly occurs frequently in some retirement communities, where drinking at social gatherings is common.