With so many drugs available, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint several foolproof signs of drug use. Depending on the type of drug being used, the physical effects can be extremely different. Whether an individual is dependent on opioids, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens or inhalants, effects may vary.

However, despite the different types of high that a drug may cause, some of the best-hidden determinants of drug abuse are typically behavioural changes.

Notable changes in the personality or mood of family and friends is always a cause for concern. However, they can also signal drug abuse.

Here are eight behavioural changes to look out for if you think somebody you know may be abusing drugs.

1) Obsessiveness

Somebody that is using drugs may show a sign of obsessive behaviour. They may have noticed a loss of control that fuels their obsessiveness.

2) Disregard of Harm

When somebody becomes so reliant on their drug use, you may notice that they have no regard for the harm they are doing to those around them. They may begin to make excuses to validate their actions.

3) Anxiousness

Severe drug abuse can often overtake someone. They may be anxious while coming down from a high or may be anxious while awaiting their next one.

4) Irritability

Drug use alters the way your brain functions. Using drugs creates a rush of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a pleasure-causing hormone that helps increase your mood. As the dopamine decreases after using, it’s common to notice signs of irritability.

5) Withdrawn

Addiction can be a steep road to navigate. Many addicts feel shame toward their addiction and may struggle to continue surrounding themselves with the same company they once did. Some addicts claim that they become withdrawn in an attempt to hide their secret of addiction from the people they love.

6) Impulsiveness

Addiction may cause a sense of impulsiveness or a lack of inhibitions. If you notice a disregard of responsibilities or impulsive spending/behaviours, it may be cause for concern.

7) Mood Swings

If you notice that somebody has extremely unpredictable moods, it may be a sign of drug use. If they switch from extreme highs to extreme lows, you may want to have a conversation with them. In rare cases, some individuals may have violent mood swings, so be sure to always protect yourself in the event that you think they may become aggressive toward you.

8) Financial Troubles

Whether somebody is suffering from prescription drug abuse or recreational drug abuse, drugs can be EXPENSIVE. If you’re seeing significant, unexplained financial problems, there may be room for concern.


Depending on what somebody’s drug of choice is, physical signs may be unpredictable. However, watch out for some of the following: weight loss/gain, bloodshot eyes, changes in their sleeping pattern (oversleeping or undersleeping), poor physical coordination, unkempt appearance, slurred speech, paleness or flushing in the face, runny nose, persistent cough.

If you suspect somebody you love is suffering from drug addiction, the best thing you can do is open the lines of communication. Do your best to become educated on drug addiction, and offer them support. Often their inability to discuss their current situation can cause a downward spiral in itself.

Encourage them to get help – a drug rehabilitation centre or addictions counselling are both great options.

Drug addiction often isn’t intended. It can sneak up on a user. What usually begins as recreational use, or perhaps a relief for pain can often spiral into something much larger. If you are trying to be there for somebody suffering from drug addiction, always make sure to protect yourself FIRST. You can’t pour from an empty cup. However, keep in mind that this was never an intended outcome, even if it did stem from a poor decision.

Always remember that overcoming addiction is an ongoing process. There is no easy fix. It requires a firm, supportive role and open communication. Reach out to offered resources when applicable. Recovery can start at any time.

Written by Celina Dawdy