Recognizing Signs of Substance Abuse

by | Jun 2, 2020 | Addiction, Addiction Treatment, Drug Addiction

America as a nation has been “at war with drugs for generations. The problem has continued to grow and negatively impact virtually every family in America in one way or another. According to numbers from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, some 19.7 million adults who call this nation home were battling a substance disorder in 2017. In addition to the loss of life, this costs the country $740 billion annually because of various issues that come about due to drug abuse. 

Unfortunately, substance abuse of any kind, whether it be a prescription drug addiction, alcohol abuse or illicit drug addiction, is not always easy to spot. This is because addicts are skilled at hiding their substance abuse problems. Many of them are ashamed of themselves and want to quit but don’t know how to admit they have a problem or ask for help from those they love. That makes recognizing a substance abuse issue so important. When you as a family member or friend realize there is a problem, this is often the first step towards addiction recovery. It brings the addiction out into the open, away from the shadows of shame, allowing them to get the help they so desperately need and deserve.  

Signs of Substance Abuse: What to Look For

Physical Signs

Look for these common physical signs, showing your loved one might be addicted to drugs or alcohol:

  • They stumble when they walk or have poor coordination.
  • Their eyes are watery, red or their pupils seem either too small or too large.
  • Their sleeping patterns have noticeably changed, either they are sleeping much more or less than normal.
  • Their body shakes or tremors.
  • They have a runny nose and/or persistent cough.
  • They slur their speech, are hard to comprehend or just make little sense when talking.
  • Their weight has transformed, along with their normal eating habits.
  • They have poor personal hygiene habits. 
  • They have unusual smelling breath, body or clothing.
  • They have puffiness, flushing or paleness in their face.

Behavioral Signs

The following are some common behavioral signs that your loved one could have a substance abuse problem. While not everyone exhibits all these traits, they are common with addicts across the board:

  • Financial and/or Legal Issues: Substance abuse isn’t a cheap habit. It is also illegal. Therefore, addicts are often deeply in debt, manage their money poorly and are often in trouble with the law.
  • Relationship Issues: Substance abuse alters the addict’s personality, making them do and say things they would never say if in their right mind. This altered negative behavior can cause many relationship problems, leading to breakups and fights amongst couples, family members and friends.
  • Neglectful Attitude: An addict only cares about getting their next fix. All else, including their responsibilities to their home and family, are often pushed to the side.
  • Negative Work Performance: An addict who previously performed well at school or work might suddenly drop off, meaning their grades plummet and they are getting in trouble or falling behind at work. This could indicate a substance abuse issue. 
  • Social Withdrawal: Addicts don’t want to be found out, so they hide their social lives from their sober family and friends. This can lead them to withdraw from normal relationships and social activities. 
  • Risky, Unsafe Behavior: Addicts aren’t thinking straight. Substance abuse does alter the way the brain processes information. This means they might do things they would never normally do, like driving under the influence, stealing, or engaging in other illegal or risky activities. 
  • Changed Way of Thinking: What motivated or engaged an addict before their addiction will probably become boring to them after. They don’t care about what they formerly cared about any longer. They might even struggle to remember basic things or make simple decisions.

Your Next Step

You don’t have to wait on your loved one to “hit rock bottom” before stepping in to make your concerns known. If you suspect your loved one is addicted to drugs or is struggling with substance abuse of any kind, call us today at (833) 251-2537 and we’ll implement a plan of action to get your loved one into our treatment facility and on the road to recovery. 



Soul Surgery
Soul Surgery Integrative Medicine Addiction Centers works with clients to bring healing and recovery for those suffering with drug and alcohol use, current or past trauma, mental health issues, and other life experiences. Located in Scottsdale, AZ, we provide addiction treatment, drug and alcohol detox, dual diagnosis treatment, mental health treatment, and medication assisted treatment on both an inpatient and outpatient basis.

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