Signs and Symptoms of Drug Abuse

Signs and Symptoms of Drug Abuse

Drug abuse costs the United States approximately $600 billion annually. Although the costs to the nation are high, these pale in comparison to the non-financial costs to affected individuals. Drug abuse destroys lives and relationships, and it can even result in serious long-term health problems or death. For these reasons, it’s important to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of drug abuse so treatment can be sought.

Behavioral Changes are Common

Behavior is one of the first things affected by drug abuse, although it may not always be immediately obvious. However, as addiction grows stronger, the differences begin to make themselves known. These signs and symptoms of drug abuse can include:

  • Uncharacteristic irritability
  • Emotional outbursts and displays of anger or rage
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Spending more time with “new friends” who are usually also drug users
  • Showing up to work or appointments late or not at all
  • Going to work hung over or under the influence
  • Violence or aggression
  • Lack of dependability
  • Nervousness, anxiety or other withdrawal symptoms
  • Hiding or lying about drug use

Physical Signs That Usually Appear

Drug abuse also presents with several physical signs, many of which are typically seen with certain kinds of drugs. Here are some of the most common things to look for:

  • Injection wounds, or “needle tracks,” on the inner arms, most often seen with heroin use
  • Scabs and sores from picking at the face, neck, hands, arms or other areas of the body
  • Unexplained weight loss, common in people who abuse heroin and stimulants
  • Weight gain due to the overeating and lack of physical activity seen with marijuana abuse
  • A filthy, unkempt appearance due to apathy
  • Gaunt, pale appearance caused by heroin or opioid painkiller abuse
  • Insomnia and restlessness due to stimulant abuse
  • Bloating and facial redness caused by chronic excessive alcohol consumption
  • Constipation, most commonly seen with opiate abuse

Each addict reacts to their drug of choice in their own unique way, however, the above signs are the most commonly experienced.

Legal Issues Are Not Unusual

Drug abusers have a high risk of trouble with the law for a variety of reasons. The most obvious reason is possession. This also holds true for possessing a prescription drug that was not prescribed to the abuser, which is a felony. However, various aspects of the behavior caused by drug abuse can also result in legal problems. Aggression, violence and irresponsible behavior are signs and symptoms of drug abuse that can lead to charges of assault, manslaughter, murder, rape, public intoxication, theft, indecent exposure, disorderly conduct and public urination.

Drug abuse is a serious yet under-treated problem in America. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, around 23 million people require treatment for drug abuse, yet only 2.6 million receive such treatment at a specialized inpatient rehabilitation facility. Obtaining the proper treatment is critical as it places addicted individuals in a controlled, low-stress environment where they can be medically treated and monitored, given access to group therapy and provided with the professional assistance they need to overcome drug abuse.

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