Drug addiction is a widespread problem across the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the use of illicit substances is on the rise, and it particularly puts adolescent individuals at risk. The types of drugs vary but include opioids, cocaine, methamphetamines, and more. They are all extremely dangerous for those who use them – even once. Even legal substances such as alcohol or marijuana pose a hazard to your health if you use them excessively.
It’s not something you should take lightly.
Drug abuse can cause changes in appetite and mood, heart attack, stroke, and more in the short-term. It also has much more detrimental effects in the long-term. These include cancer, lung diseases, changes to the brain, and others. Plus, a drug habit can hold someone back from making progress in life. There’s a huge time cost of drug use, especially when it’s a long-term addiction.
Even if you yourself don’t use substances like these and have no interest in trying, you need to understand that anyone can get hooked. Even the people that appear “perfect” on the outside: the brilliant coworker you have or the sister you look up to. It can happen to anyone. Because of that, it’s important to know the warning signs of drug use so you can identify if someone close to you needs help.
1. Changes in physical appearance
If your friend is abusing drugs, you may notice something different about how they look. Addiction has an impact on one’s immune system, so if you notice someone getting sick more often than normal, you need to pay attention. Even when an addict isn’t under the weather, it’s common for them to have decaying teeth, pale skin, dry or bloodshot eyes, sores on their body or even the loss of body weight and hair.
2. Sudden financial problems
Important: This is not to say that you should assume those with less money are also abusing drugs. Rather, it’s a warning sign to consider in addition to other warning signs, especially if it’s a sudden change. It can be a red flag if, out of the blue, your friend suddenly is not able to pay for anything, is behind on their rent, or starts always saying they’re “not hungry” when you go out to eat. These are just a few examples, but any change where a friend suddenly seems to be struggling financially can be a big warning sign. A drug addiction can be incredibly costly to support and maintain.
3. Changes in personality
Drug addiction can drastically change someone’s personality. If a friend suddenly starts acting selfish, secretive, manipulative, irritable, moody, or disinterested in favorite activities, or exhibits other similar personality changes, it might be a warning sign for substance abuse, but regardless of that, your loved one needs a support.
Hopefully, you aren’t reminded of someone by reading about these warning signs. If you are, though, there are ways you can try to help. Talk to them, support them, get them into an addiction therapy treatment and try to be understanding. If you need support and aren’t sure how to navigate the situation, you can always call SAMHSA’s National Helpline and speak to a professional.