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Signs And Symptoms Of Drug Addiction

Sadly, access to drugs and the number of people using them is on the rise. Many parents worry about their teenagers living in a world where peer pressure often makes them vulnerable to being caught up in the drugs scene. Even as adults many of us can be caught up in the “oh have a go, it will relax you” scenario. But how do you know if someone has gone beyond just experimenting, and has become caught up in full-blown addiction?

There are both physical and behavioural signs that drugs have taken a hold on someone’s life. If you’re worried that someone close to you may have a drug problem, here are some of the signs to look for.

Physical Signs

  • Bloodshot eyes, with pupils larger or smaller than usual
  • Physical appearance beginning to deteriorate, personal grooming and hygiene being ignored
  • Sudden changes in weight, either loss or gain, and appetite either increasing or decreasing
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Unusual or abnormal odours on clothing, body and breath
  • Slurred speech, tremors or loss of coordination

Psychological Signs 

  • Mood swings, irritability, outbursts of unexplained anger
  • Personality changes
  • Lethargy, lack of motivation
  • Unexplained paranoia or anxiety
  • Bouts of hyperactivity or agitation

Behavioural signs

  • Suddenly becoming secretive or acting suspiciously
  • Getting into trouble, fighting, unexplained injuries
  • Attendance suddenly dropping at work or school
  • Sudden financial problems and need for money. May resort to borrowing or stealing
  • Changes in friends, hobbies, hangouts


Other warning signs that drugs may be being misused can manifest in school work being ignored, grades dropping and playing truant. Demanding privacy, locking the bedroom door and generally sneaking around is often a sign that something is amiss. Acting withdrawn, depressed, isolating themselves from the outside world and losing interest in old hobbies can indicate problems and potential misuse of drugs.


Neglecting responsibilities at home and work hint at potential drug misuse. Sudden changes in relationships, picking fights and arguments, dropping friends and behaving out of character are also warning signs. More classic symptoms include risk taking, driving erratically whilst under the influence of drugs, stealing and disorderly conduct.

Support And Help

Anyone who has a drug problem or who is involved with someone they believe is misusing drugs needs to get professional help and support. Recriminations, hiding drugs or using emotional blackmail to try to stop a loved one taking drugs won’t make matters any better. Offering concerns and support is a start but the drug user has to accept responsibility for his or her actions before stepping on the road to recovery. Speak to a GP and get advice about drug counselling and self-help groups. Getting professional help is the best way to help with an addiction, and with background support from friends and family an addict has the best chance of making a recovery.

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