46% of Americans have a close friend or family member who is struggling with drug addiction. Almost 20 million people in America over the age of 12 suffered from drug abuse disorders in 2017 and there were 72,000 overdose-related deaths.
The number of drug-related deaths has risen substantially in recent years due to the opioid crises. Of the 72,000 deaths in 2017, almost 50,000 of them were linked to opioid overdoses.
Trying to help someone with an addiction can make you feel helpless. Read on for 7 common signs someone you love has a drug problem, and get some tips and advice on how to deal with the situation.
- 1 Drug Use Doesn’t Always Mean Addiction
- 2 What To Do if Someone You Love Has a Drug Problem
Drug Use Doesn’t Always Mean Addiction
Some people are able to use drugs and alcohol recreationally and still live a successful, high-functioning life. Moderate, occasional drug use does not always lead to addiction.
It’s less about the amount taken as it is about the consequences. Smoking the odd joint or using painkillers to deal with an injury might not be a problem. Keep an eye on these 5 drugs that are considered to be the most addictive.
Look out for these signs to find out when recreational drug use might be turning into something more serious.
1. Bloodshot Eyes, Drastic Weight Changes
Though not all signs of a drug problem are physical, frequent bloodshot eyes, changes of pupil size, and drastic changes to weight are common indicators that someone is using.
Commonly abused drugs like cocaine, heroin, and hallucinogens cause changes to the pupils. If your loved one comes home with either small or large pupils, it’s not an unfair assumption that they have been using.
Stimulants like cocaine and hallucinogens like LSD or PSP will cause pupils to dilate (get bigger). Heroin use causes pupils to contract (get smaller). Marijuana use is linked to red, glassy eyes.
Sudden weight loss or weight gain can also be an indicator. However, weight change also links to stress and other psychological problems, so you shouldn’t use it as the sole reason to suspect someone is using drugs.
2. Problems at Work or School
Not showing up for work or school and drops in performance can be a good indicator. Often times, the user will lie about going to work or school when they’re really going off to find and use drugs.
It can be difficult to tell when a user is lying or telling the truth. At first, you might not suspect anything, especially with an adult user. So stay vigilant and keep an eye out for other signs and symptoms.
With teen addiction, it’s a little easier to monitor as schools will notify you if your kids are skipping class and report cards will indicate a drop in grades.
3. Changes in Personality, Loss of Interest in Hobbies
Some signs of drug addiction can be easily mistaken for depression and other mental health problems. In fact, depression is widely linked to drug abuse and withdrawal symptoms only exacerbate it.
Sudden, unexplained changes to personality can include increased aggression and irritability, extreme mood changes and loss of interest in hobbies and activities they once enjoyed.
While these symptoms can be linked to depression, when combined with these other signs and symptoms they can also be an indicator of drug addiction.
4. Financial Problems
If someone who works full time suddenly has trouble paying their bills, it could be a sign of drug abuse. Borrowing and stealing money from family and friends is also common.
The impact is a lot greater for those who weren’t well off to begin with. For people with low or poverty line income, money spent on drugs can mean going without food or getting evicted for not paying rent.
Even cheaper habits like alcohol can take a toll on the bank account. It’s not uncommon for addicts to spend more than $10,000 per year on drugs. For poverty-line earners, that can account for half of an annual salary.
Prolonged drug use can often lead to loss of employment, which only makes the problem worse. Two-thirds of homeless people say drug use was the reason they became homeless in the first place.
5. Changes in Friends and Hangouts
This is not just applicable to teenagers. If your loved one suddenly starts hanging out with new friends you’ve never met, it’s important to trust your gut.
If you have a bad feeling about someone they are spending a lot of time with, you might be right to be suspicious. Dropping old friends in favor of new ones, especially as an adult, isn’t normal behavior.
6. Acting Reckless
Making bad financial decisions or acting recklessly while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a big sign there’s a problem.
If someone has their situation under control, they wouldn’t make decisions that would endanger their life or someone else’s.
Driving under the influence, having unprotected sex, using dirty needles, stealing or selling drugs and getting caught up with the law are signs a person’s drug use is getting out of control.
When in the throes of addiction, it’s common for the user to lie about their whereabouts or where their money has gone. It’s easier for them to lie than to admit the truth and deal with the consequences.
Of course, just because someone lies doesn’t automatically mean they’re using, but lying and unexplained absences in tandem with these other signs and symptoms can be a surefire sign of drug abuse.
What To Do if Someone You Love Has a Drug Problem
If you start to notice more than one of these symptoms happening regularly, you have to come to terms with the fact that you might be dealing with an addict.
First of all, always take care of yourself first. Speak up, keep your cool, be compassionate, patient and kind. No doubt your emotions will take hold, but try to keep your composure and remain rational.
Have a plan in mind. It’s not easy to help someone who doesn’t want help, and sometimes an ultimatum is necessary. Give them a choice. You can either help them or cut them off financially or emotionally.
Stick to your guns. Addicts will take advantage of you if they can. Tough love can be extremely hard, but in the end, it’s what they need most. Try to find a time when they’re sober to discuss the matter.
It’s futile to talk to them about their addiction while they’re high. Addicts are unstable and easily angered.
If they feel cornered or threatened, they could get aggressive and even violent. Here are more tips on how to have a successful drug intervention.
At The End of the Day
If you think someone you love has a drug problem, keep an eye out for these signs and symptoms, and don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
It’s not the end of the road. Addicts recover every day. Check out our health blog for more information and advice.