By |Categories: Health & Wellness|Last Updated: June 6, 2024|

Early Signs of Drug Use, Abuse, or Addiction Signs of Drug Use, Abuse, or Addiction

When it comes to drug use, abuse, or addiction, the signs can look different depending on the substance and how often it is used. The media has painted a misleading picture of how someone going through substance abuse disorder appears or behaves. This has led people to not acknowledge the signs they see in their family, friends, or even themselves. More often than not, a family member or friend will notice something has changed and not the actual person themselves. 

If you’re worried about a family member, friend, or loved one going through drug use, abuse, or addiction, it can be hard to be 100% certain on how to proceed. There are some telltale signs and symptoms to help see these issues before it’s too late. 

Physical Signs of Drug Abuse

Drug abuse can make slight altercations to one’s appearance. Physical signs such as bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils are telling signs of many types of drug abuse. It’s also important to pay close attention to skin texture and complexion. If someone’s skin appears to be commonly puffy and washed-out in color, this can be a sign of ongoing drug or alcohol abuse.

There are some smaller signs of behavioral changes that many people will dismiss as “tics”. These hidden signs include:

  • Constant itching in one area
  • Pulling down sleeves to hide markings
  • Slurred speech
  • Frequent sniffing 

While these aren’t guaranteed ways to know if someone is abusing drugs, they are often signs that something is wrong. If they are defensive when you ask, it can be a sign they have been using a certain substance. 

Overall Appearance 

Using drugs for a long period of time can result in a drastic physical appearance. Many drugs can alter one’s appetite along with a number of other side effects. 

Sudden changes in body weight, whether it be loss or gain, or lack of personal grooming, especially if it declines suddenly, can be signs of drug use. Abuse, or addiction.


If you find one of the following items in a person’s room, it can be an obvious sign. These items include:

  • Cigarette papers
  • Pipes
  • Syringes
  • Rolled up bills or banknotes
  • Cut-up straws
  • Used/dirty cotton swabs
  • Lighters
  • Burnt spoons
  • Bongs
  • Razor blades
  • Glass or “cutting” surfaces

Not all drugs require an item to use them, but these are common items used for certain drugs that can point to misusage. Finding various prescription bottles can be a sign of prescription drug abuse. 

Behavioral Signs of Drug Use, Abuse, or Usage

When someone is constantly using a certain substance, they can begin to develop a dependency that will alter their typical behavior. Daily routines that are typical for someone may be abandoned and relationships with friends and family can come under stress. If someone you know has been acting differently, it can be a consequence of drug use, abuse, or usage.

Some behavioral signs to look for include: 

Struggle With Limits

This can occur when someone has the urge to take a higher dose of a drug than what they were prescribed or they continue to take a drug after a health problem has been cured. Addiction can make it difficult to go without the drug they were on. 

Loss of Interest

Substance dependency can take over the mind’s reward system. If someone you know no longer finds interest in what they used to, take note of it. 

This can be a sign that they are funneling all of their energy to feed their impulse. Lack of enthusiasm, dulling of talents, and failure to show up on time can be indicating signs of drug use. 

Mood Swings

Many substances, especially when heavily used, can impair one’s ability to express emotions correctly. This can show up as sudden misery, upset, irritation, or anger in situations they could previously handle well. If someone you know who is usually calm and collected is acting hyper or out of control, this can be a sign of drug abuse. 

Private Behavior

Suffering from substance abuse disorder can be very isolating. It’s not something that an individual is usually proud of and this can bring them shame, depression, and paranoia. This can make someone act secretive when they usually aren’t. Some signs to look out for include:

  • Spending long periods of time in their room
  • Locking doors in private areas
  • Not sharing details of where they are going
  • Shutting down when questions are asked 

Changes in Sleep Patterns

Drug abuse can alter one’s sleeping pattern. Stimulants and depressants can both alter the activity of hormones responsible for tiredness and wakefulness. This can throw someone off of their usual schedule. 

What To Do Now?

If you or someone you love has shown one or more of these signs, you may want to reach out to a drug abuse specialist as these are early signs of drug use, abuse, or addiction. The best way to know if someone you love has been abusing drugs is with the use of a drug test. Preferred Med Supply has a large selection of drug test cups, drug test swabs, and drug testing strips that can help you get the answer you’ve been waiting for. 

post comments