The signs of drug abuseDrug addiction information for the family

Since addiction, by its very nature, can be very secretive and protective of itself, it is sometimes difficult to tell if your loved one is using drugs or alcohol. However, armed with basic descriptions on the signs of drug abuse and alcohol abuse, you may be able to more adequately determine if anything is going on. Understand that these symptoms are broad generalities and some people can react differently under the influence of the same substance.

Signs of alcohol addiction

Early signs of alcohol abuse include frequent association with drinking establishments, parties or bars. Later stages include mood swings, depression or anxiety, distended liver, unhealthy complexion, poor eating habits. Withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, increased blood pressure, and heart rate, sleeplessness, and seizures. Withdrawal can be fatal if not properly supervised.

Signs of cocaine addiction

“Staying out all night”, runny nose, frequent sniffling or “sickness”. Change in friends. Change in sleeping patterns. Behavior changes. Mood swings, major manic ups, and depressive downs. Money problems. Most cocaine users are “bingers,” which means that they don’t use every day. The addiction can be hard to detect because the abuse often can stay sober for days, weeks or months at a time between uses in the early stages of the addiction. Withdrawal symptoms include sleeping long periods, suicidal ideation, major depression, decreased heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. Withdrawal is seldom physically dangerous however psychological symptoms include a high potential for suicide.

Signs of crack addiction

Same as cocaine, with additional disappearances sometimes lasting for days. Burn marks on hands from pipes and lighters, glass pipes and copper “cleaning pads”. Withdrawal symptoms identical to but more severe than cocaine.

Signs of marijuana addiction

Bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, slow effect. Eating binges or the “munchies”. Short-term memory loss, apathy. Gateway to other illegal drugs. Minimal withdrawal symptoms except for acute users which can include anxiety and irritability.

Signs of methamphetamine addiction

Inability to sleep, nervous physical activity, rapid speech, weight loss, irritability. Later usage symptoms include irrationality, very dangerous behaviors, paranoia, psychosis, delusional thinking, hallucinations, skin sores, complexion problems. Withdrawal symptoms include binge eating, sleeping long periods, depressed heart, respiration, and blood pressure. Withdrawal from methamphetamine is seldom dangerous.

Signs of opiate addiction (Vicodin, Heroin, Oxycontin)

In the beginning stages, a runny nose pinpointed pupils, severe itching, slurred speech, nodding off, pale skin, multiple doctor shopping to handle “back or other pains”, frequent “sickness”. Later usage symptoms change to include wearing long sleeves to hide needle marks, possible theft to support the habit, anxiety, and depression. Interestingly enough it is often easier to detect someone using opiates at the beginning of their usage, as opposed to later on. This is because their tolerance to the drug increases and the “effects lessen”. However, withdrawal symptoms become more frequent, due to a daily physical need for the drug. Withdrawal symptoms can include frequent eye-watering, anxiety, sleeplessness, increased blood pressure, yawns, sneezing, agitation, flu-like symptoms, nausea, major aches, and pains. Withdrawal is seldom dangerous.

Benzodiazepine (Xanax, Valium, Klonopin)

Slurring speech, multiple “doctor shopping”, increasing anxiety and depression, suicidal ideation, memory loss. Later usage includes blackouts, passing out while driving, major memory loss, and seizures. Withdrawal symptoms include major disorientation, anxiety, and possible seizures. Withdrawal can be fatal if not properly supervised.

Are you addicted or dependent on drugs?

It is also suggested by some that there are 3 basic types of drinkers or drug users. Granted, there are certainly all kinds of gray areas in between, but basically, most users can be categorized into one of the following three groups that we have listed below:

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A social or moderate drug user

This drinker or drug user seems to only use socially, occasionally having a glass or two of wine, or even the “once in a while” hit off a joint. There have even been known to be social users of hard drugs (i.e. the guy who does a line or two of cocaine at a bachelor party once every few years) who never seem to develop a problem with it. Understand, however, that even the social user can become addicted to drugs or alcohol with enough use.

A hard-drinking/drug user

This drinker or drug user appears, at first, to be an alcoholic or addict if you look at a particular time frame in his life. However, when a negative consequence occurs as a result of his drinking or drug use, then he usually stops, very often without the aid of treatment. Examples of this would be the woman who drank heavily in college but was taken advantage of while under the influence and has never picked up a drink since, or the man who gets married and puts down the marijuana simply because his wife tells him to, or the man that refers to his early 20s as his “cocaine and booze days” but hasn’t drank or used a drug since. The hard drinker can and will quit drinking on their own willpower if there is a negative consequence as a result of his drinking or using. If the drug or alcohol user does not seem to quit no matter how often or how many negative consequences pile up, then there is a good chance that he is.

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An alcoholic or drug addict

This drinker or drug user either has periods of abstinence with heavy “binges” or is a continuous user and doesn’t ever seem to summon up enough personal willpower to quit no matter what the negative consequences. Volumes upon volumes can be written on this very subject, but we can sum it up in a few brief statements. The “real” alcoholic or drug addict, no matter what happens as a result of his drinking and using, usually cannot quit drinking permanently without the help of some form a treatment, ideally inpatient. Left to his own devices, the drinking or using will progressively get worse, destroying the hopes and dreams of his loved ones, and eventually killing him in the end. So notice the signs of drug abuse before things get too out of hand and give us a call so we can give you the best advice.