Signs that Someone is on Drugs

An addiction to drugs and alcohol is a disease that affects every aspect of a person’s persona and behavior. Substance addiction does not discriminate. Though there are a multitude of varying factors that can affect a person’s development of an addiction, no one is immune. Anyone from any background, ethnicity or age can develop an addiction. Are there ways to identify if someone may have an addiction to substances? What are the signs that someone is on drugs?

A man blurred out in the background is reaching for a small bag of white powder, a spoon filled with white powder and a syringe.

Signs that someone is on Drugs

One important aspect of a drug and alcohol addiction is that a person will continue to use these substances despite their harm to different aspects of their life. These include physical health, cognitive performance at work or school and negative changes to personal or professional relationships. Below is a list of other signs to recognize in someone who may be misusing drugs or alcohol.

  • Feelings to use the drug regularly
  • Having intense urges for the drug
  • Needing to use more of the drug to produce the same effects
  • Taking larger amounts of the drug over a longer period of time than initially intended
  • Making certain to have a backup supply of the drug
  • Spending money they don’t have on the drugs and being financially irresponsible when it comes to purchasing the drug
  • Not meeting work responsibilities and social obligations
  • Continuing to use the drug when you know it causes problems in personal and professional life
  • Doing things out of character and changes in mood and behavior. A person can become withdrawn and depressed, less motivated and uncommunicative. They may even develop uncharacteristic qualities of hostility, anger and sudden loss of inhibition.
  • Engaging in risky activities while under the influence of drugs
  • Spending too much time getting or using the drug
  • Failing to stop drug use despite negative consequences
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop drug use
  • Development of physical health issues. Frequently getting sick, tiredness or lethargy and experiencing dramatic weight loss or gain, is a common side effect of drug use.
  • Neglecting physical appearance. Smelling of smoke or unusual smells on breath or clothes. The person becomes messier than usual showing signs of poor hygiene, burns or soot on fingers and track marks on arms or legs.

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What is a substance Addiction?

Addiction is defined by repeated patterns of misuse that can lead to the inability to control the use of legal or illegal substances. Addictive substances can be anything from alcohol, heroin and cocaine to prescription opioids and benzodiazepines. Both prescription medications and illegal substance cause addiction. In fact, prescription drugs are among the most commonly abused substances in the United States. This is due to its addictive nature and the fact that it is easily attainable through a prescription and pharmacy.

For the majority of the population, most people are able to use prescription medications and recreational drugs responsibly without experiencing negative side effects. There is a group of people who are unable to control their substance misuse habits and are at high risk for developing a drug or alcohol addiction. Drug abuse and alcohol addiction focuses less on the type, amount or frequency of a substance that has been used. Addiction puts emphasis on the negative outcomes and consequences that are a result of using the drug.

How does an addiction to drugs and alcohol affect the brain? Oftentimes, taking drugs can cause the release of a rush of hormones called dopamine into your brain. This hormone chemical triggers feelings of pleasure. Your brain will remember and adapt to these feelings. This will cause the brain to repeatedly seek out this feeling with the help of the drugs because it is no longer able to produce them naturally on its own. This creates a sense of dependency on this significant ingredient needed for the survival of the brain.

Because the drug is a foreign agent entering into the body and brain, it can physically and chemically alter normal brain functions. This leads to changing the ability to think logically, exercise good judgment and control feelings and behaviors. When a person becomes addicted to a substance, they are no longer able to feel “normal” without the use of drugs and alcohol.

Risk Factors that lead to the Development of an Addiction

There are many different factors that contribute to the development of substance addiction. Sometimes drug addiction can begin with curiosity. People can be tempted to experiment with recreational drugs in social situations. Others start using drugs to cope with and manage stress, pain or anxiety. It can also start innocently through taking a recommended prescription medication to help treat a specific diagnosis.  

A few factors that affect the risk of addiction include:

  • How much of the substance you are using
  • How often you use the substance
  • The type of substance you are using
  • If you are using multiple substances simultaneously
  • Method of substance administration (smoking, injecting or orally consuming)
  • Age and gender
  • Biological makeup and genetics
  • Family history
  • Environmental and social influences
  • Trauma and other mental health disorders

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We specialize in treating addiction and other co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD. Our Admissions specialists are available to walk you through the best options for treating your addiction.

Addiction and Treatment

The U.S. opioid epidemic began with a simple medical prescription for medications. Many believe because a medical professional vets these substances, they are safe to use under any circumstances. Prescription medications often have similar, if not the same structural and chemical compounds as illegal substances. Making both legal and illegal substances equally addictive in nature.

Many people believe overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction is just a simple matter of willpower. That you can stop using drugs if you really wanted to. Unfortunately, this disease creates both physical and psychological obstacles that can make ending addiction extremely difficult. Like any other medical disease, addiction is treatable. Through a comprehensive treatment plan that uses multiple methods and addresses different aspects of addiction, overcoming addiction is possible.

Hotel California by the Sea offers a multidisciplinary approach to addiction treatment. Through different levels of care including detox, residential and outpatient programs, clients have the opportunity to choose a treatment program that best fits their needs. Specialized treatment methods such as EMDR therapy and family therapy provide a unique perspective on healing. These evidence-based treatments allow clients to treat varying aspects of their addiction. Hotel California by the Sea focuses on a well-rounded approach to healing from substance addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions.