Drugs play an important and valuable role when it comes to the health of people living in the U.S. and around the world. Unfortunately, there are some drugs that are addictive in nature and are frequently abused. When drugs are abused and used illegally, they can create problems that are dangerous to the individual, their family, and potentially anyone who may come into contact with them. Drug abuse is a serious problem that affects people of all ages, genders, and economic statuses. To counter the devastating effects of drug abuse, it often takes the intervention and/or support of friends and loved ones to encourage abusers to get the assistance that they require. In order to do that, people who suspect drug use must first recognize the signs of drug abuse.
Drugs that heighten one’s mood, sense of awareness, and energy, as well as elevate respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure, belong to a class of drugs that are known as stimulants. These drugs are highly addictive and dangerous with illicit use. Cocaine and methamphetamine are examples of drugs that fall under this category. Although there are a number of different types of stimulants, there are some common signs that abusers may exhibit. These signs include dilated pupils, dry mouth, and dry nose. A person who is abusing stimulants may also seem hyperactive or restless or may show signs of anxiety. They may have periods of excessive talking and manic behavior. Someone who does not eat or sleep for long periods at a time, shows signs of weight loss, or sleeps excessively at various, unusual times may also be a person who is abusing these types of drugs. Certain signs are more specific to the drugs that are being used. For example, a person who is addicted to methamphetamine may exhibit uncharacteristically psychotic behavior or violent tendencies, have an unhealthy skin tone or complexion, or develop poor hygienic standards.
- Stimulants Facts
- Drug Abuse Definition and Information (PDF)
- Detailed Signs and Symptoms of Drug Use
- Drug Information: Methamphetamine Signs of Abuse
- Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Abuse
Certain drugs are designed to reduce anxiety and have a relaxing, almost sedative effect on the user by slowing down the central nervous system. These drugs are known as depressants or central nervous system (CNS) depressants. Barbiturates, Valium, heroin, and even alcohol fall under this category of drug. In fact, alcohol is abused more than any other drug or substance in the U.S. A person who is abusing depressants excessively may exhibit signs that include drowsiness, slurred speech, and an inability to pay attention for any length of time. They may lack coordination and display an inability to use good judgment. For people in intimate relationships, sexual impairment may also be a sign of long-term abuse. Sleep problems that are chronic are yet another sign that a person has potentially been using depressants on a long-term basis. Heroin is a depressant that also makes people experience feelings of happiness. Signs of abuse associated with heroin include constricted pupils and “tracks” or needle marks on the skin.
- Tell Tale Signs of Drug Use
- Signs of Heroin Abuse and Addiction
- Health Library: Drug Addiction
When under the influence of hallucinogens, a person’s perception of the world around them is altered. They may see, hear, or smell things that are not actually present. Drugs such as phencyclidine (known popularly as PCP) and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) are some of the more well-known hallucinogenic drugs. When determining whether an individual is abusing this type of drug, it is important to keep in mind that the symptoms generally vary depending on the exact drug that is being used. For example, signs that a person is abusing PCP include having hallucinations, feelings of depression, loss of appetite, delusional behavior and thinking, and aggression. A person who is abusing LSD may have tremors, hallucinations, and flashbacks. Although different hallucinogens reveal themselves in different ways, there are some general signs to look out for. These signs include dilated pupils, paranoia, slurred speech, mood swings, and confusion.
- Signs of Substance Abuse
- Drug Addiction Symptoms
- Drug Abuse: Hallucinogens
- Narcotic Unit – Drug Abuse Signs
- Teenage Drug Use: A Parental Guide (PDF)
By Michelle Conway