What Are The Symptoms and Signs of Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse is not always as apparent as expected. Sometimes recreational or prescription use can develop into full-blown addiction without the user even recognizing it, let alone others who observe them recognizing it. There are many behavioral and physical symptoms that signify substance abuse. Habitual drug use is not always visible, but there are a few common signs that can be recognized and tied to the stages of addiction.

Behavioral Changes

Some drugs can impair the user’s ability to function. This type of behavioral reaction to addiction is common with substances such as alcohol and methamphetamine. Dependence on a substance can oftentimes spark an increase in aggression or irritability. Other behavioral changes include personality changes and attitude shifts, depression, involvement in criminal activity, and changes in habits and priorities. A major change in habits could be sleeping patterns, eating patterns, and hygiene patterns.

When a person drastically shifts their behavioral tendencies, it could be a sign of addiction. This can include the person’s ability to perform at work or school. Taking a drastic shift in interest and dedication to work or school can be a sign of addiction. Altered behaviors such as drastic changes in relationships, an increased demand for privacy, and spending money more than usual can also signify habitual substance abuse. Daily activities can see a plunge in energy and efficiency.

Physical Changes

In addition to behavioral changes, physical changes can be a sign of substance abuse as well. Physical changes can be everything from the way their skin looks to dental issues. Abrupt weight changes could be another tell-tale sign of addiction. One of the most commonly known means of recognizing a physical clue to identifying if someone is struggling with addiction is to look at their eyes. Bloodshot eyes, glazed eyes, and dilated or constricted eyes are all signs of drug use. Lack of interest in grooming, wearing inappropriate or filthy clothing, and

Signs of Alcoholism

When abusing alcohol, users may display signs of forgetting conversations due to blackouts and memory loss. When alcohol dependence is severe, a person may develop delirium tremors if they do not consistently consume alcohol. Other signs of alcoholism include drinking to relax, to improve mood, or to cope with problems. Mood swings, depression, irritability, and an argumentative attitude may also be signs of alcoholism. Another red flag is interest in drinking alone, as well as lack of control over the quantity of alcohol they consume and continuing to drink regardless of problems in life caused by drinking.

Signs of Stimulant Use

Stimulants such as cocaine can be snorted through the nose, and thus nasal congestion can signify habitual use. Another physical sign of stimulant use is a clenched jaw and grinding teeth. Behavioral issues such as rambling speech, aggressive demeanor, and increased energy also are signs of stimulant abuse. Long-term abuse of methamphetamine specifically can cause psychosis and paranoia. Psychosis and paranoia can result in hostility and aggression as well.

Signs of Benzodiazepines Abuse

Benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax are typically prescribed to treat anxiety. Therefore abuse of these substances can result in extreme highs and lows. When abusing benzodiazepines, users will experience relief from anxiety and be very relaxed and calm. However, when a benzodiazepine abuser does not have the substance in their system, they tend to have an increase in anxiety that is very noticeable in contrast with when they are under the influence. Inability to balance, dizziness, and confusion may be additional signs of benzodiazepine abuse.

Signs of Opiate Abuse

Opiates are one of the most deadly substances one can abuse. Lethargy, slowed reaction times, and falling asleep at inappropriate times are major signs of opiate abuse. Overall, opiate users appear heavily sedated. They experience memory issues, and if they are unable to use regularly, they may experience flu-like symptoms and anxiousness. Opiates also slow the digestive system and can cause intestinal issues like constipation.

Early Intervention Saves Lives

Recognizing these behavioral and physical changes can save lives. As addiction continues to go untreated, typically, the user builds a tolerance, which requires them to use more heavily to receive the same effect they once experienced with a lower dose. The longer addiction goes untreated, the larger the doses, and thus the higher the risk for fatalities. It’s essential to address substance use as quickly as possible with an addiction treatment program; it can mean saving a life.

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