Recognizing Signs of Drug Abuse in People

Recognizing Signs of Drug Abuse in People

Drug use affects people from all walks of life and all socioeconomic statuses. Whatever the reason a person starts taking drugs, whether recreationally or as prescribed, tolerance, patterns of increased use, physical dependence and, ultimately, addiction may develop sometimes before the user even realizes it.

Recognizing some warning signs of drug abuse is noting these signs:

Behavioural warning signs 

  • Drop in attendance and performance at work or school
  • Unexplained financial problems; borrowing or stealing
  • Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviours
  • Sudden change in friends, favourite 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

While experimenting with any kind of drug doesn’t automatically lead to drug abuse, early use is a risk factor for developing more serious drug abuse and addiction down the road. Risk of drug abuse also increases greatly during times of transition, such as changing schools, moving, or divorce.

If it is suspected that a friend or family member has a drug problem, Speak up: Talk to the person about your concerns, and offer your help and support without being judgmental. The earlier addiction is treated, the better. Don’t wait for your loved one to hit rock bottom! List specific examples of your loved one’s behaviour that have you worried and urge them to seek help.

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