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Article Summary

Signs of Drug Abuse

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to spotting the signs of drug abuse. The main thing to look out for is changes in behavior, attitude, appearance, friends, or activities. Bear in mind that many of the signs listed below may also be caused by stress, depression, or other problems. Whatever the cause, they may warrant attention, especially if they persist or if multiple signs of drug abuse occur at the same time. Consult your family doctor or a mental health professional if you have questions. Getting help early on can help your loved one to get back on track and develop more effective coping skills, often preventing further problems.

Depending on the type of drug that is abused, different signs of drug abuse may result and slight variations in outward indications may be observed. Some signs and symptoms are specific to opiates and narcotics which are distinct from those experienced with Central Nervous Stimulants like Cocaine or depressants like alcohol.

Common Signs of Drug Abuse

The National Library of Medicine documents these telltale signs of drug abuse:

  • Change in friends. Hanging out with a new group.
  • Secluded behavior - long periods spent in self imposed isolation.
  • Long, unexplained absences.
  • Lying and stealing.
  • Involvement on the wrong side of the law.
  • Deteriorating family relationships.
  • Obvious intoxication, deliriousness, incoherence or unconsciousness.
  • Changes in behavior and attitude.
  • Decrease in school or work performance.

Drug abuse in the Workplace

When it comes to signs of drug abuse in the work place, employers look for increased rates of absenteeism or decline in job performance. However, these sings often do not show up as readily in those working in the healthcare field. ?Those in healthcare will alienate their families, destroy their finances, drop out of their usual recreations, and only then have their problems show up on the job. One potential explanation for this is the fact that impaired healthcare professionals generally get their drugs on the job.

Getting a loved one to the point where a drug abuse or dependence diagnosis can be made is often a difficult task. People with drug and alcohol problems are often secretive about their use, or blind to the idea that a problem exists. It is helpful then to have a list of behaviors that one can look for that, when present, may suggest that someone has signs of drug abuse.

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