Having someone in your life who has a drug problem can be hard. It can be hard to help them, hard to get them to see what you see, and even hard to love them. Fortunately, if you know ‘How to Tell If Someone Is on Drugs,’ it can help them acknowledge the issue, and maybe even get the help they need.

The difficult truth is, if someone you know or love is an addict, it might be up to you to help them get and stay clean. But it can be hard to know if they’re telling the truth and you don’t want your relationship to turn into you questioning them all the time.

Learning how to tell if someone is on drugs doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to require you to search through their things or drill them on a daily basis. There are signs and symptoms that you can look for in order to help you determine if that person is using.

Keep reading to discover what the physical and behavioral warning signs are so that you can be better equipped to help them fight their addiction.

Common Physical Signs

First, we’ll look at some of the common physical signs and then behavioral signs that can help determine whether or not someone is using drugs. Then we’ll break down signs and behaviors that are specific to certain types of drugs.

Some of the common physical signs that you might notice in a loved one who is using drugs are as follows:

  • Sudden weight gain or loss
  • Sudden changes in appetite
  • Red or bloodshot eyes
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Pale skin
  • A Puffy face
  • Hyperactivity
  • Dilated or constricted pupils
  • Runny nose or sniffling
  • Tremors or shaking

Obviously, any of these can happen for reasons other than using drugs, but if you notice more than one of these signs and you notice them often, it could be a sign that someone is using.

Common Behavioral Signs

There are a few behavioral signs that you can look for in someone you think might be using drugs, regardless of what those drugs might be, such as:

  • New friends
  • Personality changes
  • Lack of motivation
  • Irritability
  • Lack of interest in hobbies and things that were once loved
  • Lying or dishonesty
  • Poor performance at work or at school
  • Increased need for privacy or security
  • Legal problems
  • Lack of grooming and personal care
  • Paranoia

Again, there are reasons other than drug use that could cause any one of these behavioral changes. But if you’re focusing on someone who has had a drug problem in the past or who shows more than one of these behavioral signs, chances are, they are using drugs.

What About Dilated Pupils?

Many people want to know what drugs cause dilated pupils as they can be an easy thing to notice and a very common sign of someone who has drugs pumping through their blood.

Your pupils are those black dots in the center of your eyes. Their job is to regulate the amount of light that enters your eyes and they do so by getting smaller or bigger.

Some of the drugs that can cause dilated pupils in someone are:

  • LSD
  • Heroine
  • Cocaine
  • Atropine
  • Sudafed
  • Antihistamines
  • Methamphetamines
  • Ecstacy

What Drugs Cause What Symptoms?

Now that we’ve tackled some common signs and symptoms, let’s take a look at those that can be indicative of specific drugs.

Did you know that drug addiction is a chronic disease? Even if an individual gets clean and stays clean for a long period of time, that disease is something that they could continue to struggle with their entire lives.

That means that a lot of times, it’s up to the people in an addicts life to look out for signs and symptoms that they may be using again.

Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Use

Heroin provides a chemically-provided sense of euphoria. It puts the user in a dreamlike state so that they could drift off for minutes or even hours.

For long-time users, however, it may act as a stimulant so that they can go about their usual activities. It’s estimated that 9.2 people in the world use heroin. It’s also been around for years so there’s been plenty of time to study the signs and symptoms.

You might notice evidence of heroin use in paraphernalia that has been left behind. Black tar or white powder can be left behind in small amounts on any surface that could have been used to prepare the drug.

You might also look for belts, rubber tubing, syringes or glass pipes. Keep in mind that glass pipes can also be used for tobacco or marijuana, so be careful not to jump to any conclusions right away if you see one.

When someone is using heroin, their breathing is typically slower, which is one of the ways in which an overdose can kill.

Itching, nausea, vomiting, and constipation are all additional symptoms that may be displayed by a heroin and opiate user. Heroin users are also prone to skin infection and the drug can cause spontaneous abortions in pregnant women. For an even more in-depth look at how to know if a loved one is abusing heroin, check out our blog here.

Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Use

There are many signs that can be attributed to cocaine use. One big one to look for is significant changes in mood. Especially if the person using doesn’t want you to know that they are using, you may see them euphoric and energetic in one sitting, and then lethargic and depressed the next.

Runny noses, sniffling, and after lots of us, bloody noses, are all signs of cocaine use. You also might notice that this person disappears a lot, as the cocaine wears off and they feel the need to use more.

Someone who is addicted to cocaine may use poor judgment or suffer from hallucinations and delusions. They may have periods where they demonstrate overconfidence or aggressiveness.

Cocaine addiction is extremely dangerous as it can constrict blood vessels, enlarge the heart, and cause heart attacks.

Signs and Symptoms of Inhalant Use

More often than not, an individual who is addicted to drugs will use more than one type of drug. Furthermore, drug use can be expensive and often users will look for other, less expensive ways to get high.

Inhalants can be those inexpensive options. Short-term effects of using inhalants are giggling, silliness, dizziness, headaches, and even fainting or unconsciousness.

Long-term use of inhalants can cause emotional instability, memory loss, slurred speech, impairment of reasoning, hearing loss, eye flutter, tremors, and escalating stages of brain atrophy. Sometimes brain damage is reversible by cleansing, detoxification, and nutritional therapy. Sometimes, however, brain damage is only partially reversible or entirely irreversible.

Signs and Symptoms of Methamphetamine Use

Methamphetamine addiction is a worldwide epidemic. In fact, there are over 24 million users of this drug, also known as “crystal meth.” The abuse tripled from 1996 to 2006, in just 10 years.

Often, addicts of methamphetamine stay awake for days and even weeks at a time. Some of the side effects of using this drug are as follows:

  • Sleeplessness
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Total loss of appetite
  • Talkative
  • Excited
  • Dilated pupils
  • Paranoia and anxiety
  • Deluded sense of power
  • Unusual sweating and shaking
  • Aggression and violence
  • Mood changes
  • Blurred vision and glassy eyes
  • Mental confusion

If you’re looking for signs that a loved one might be using meth, you can look for small bags of white powder or crystals. You may also come across syringes small pieces of crumble aluminum foil, and or soda cans with holes.

Meth is produced using extremely harsh chemicals. Thus, it can do a lot of damage to the body. If you or a loved one has a meth addiction, it is imperative that you seek help right away.

Addiction Is a Disease, Not a Choice

Many people think that someone who is using drugs can choose to stop right away. But that is simply not the case. It’s important for a user to understand that it’s not their fault that they’re addicted and that the only way to make a change is to seek help.

If you’re scared at all about what that entails for yourself or a loved one, read our article about everything you can expect from when you decide to get help. We’ll break down the entire process from checking in to joining a supportive community to the many lasting benefits you’ll receive from seeking help.

How to Tell If Someone Is on Drugs

If you have a loved one with an addiction and you’ve taken on the great responsibility of watching out for that person, it’s essential that you know what to look for. The best thing you can do for yourself and your loved one is to know how to tell if someone is on drugs.

Once you decide to get that loved one help or get help for yourself, you will soon discover that you are not alone. You will become a part of a huge community of supporters that may end up guiding you and supporting you throughout your life along your journey of fighting that addiction. Would you like to ask a few questions or to find out how much of treatment your insurance may cover? Give us a call today so that we can start getting you or your loved one the help you need to fight your addiction disease.


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