If you begin to notice unexplained changes in physical appearance or unusual behavior, this may be a sign of substance use—or perhaps a sign of another unidentified problem.

To definitively know requires a professional who will conduct a screening. Still, it is better to be aware of signs rather than live in denial. So care enough to take assessment. Here are some of the signs.

Physical Signs of a Substance Abuser

  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slurred or agitated speech
  • Sudden or dramatic weight loss or gain
  • Skin abrasions/bruises
  • Neglected appearance/poor hygiene
  • Sick more frequently
  • Accidents or injuries

Behavioral Signs

  • Denying use; lying and covering up
  • Sense that the person will "do anything" to use again regardless of consequences
  • Loss of control or choice of use (drug-seeking behavior)
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Emotional instability
  • Hyperactive or hyper-aggressive
  • Depression, sadness, isolation
  • Missing school or work
  • Failure to fulfill responsibilities at home, school or work
  • Complaints from teachers or co-workers
  • Reports of intoxication at school or work
  • Secretive behavior
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Locked doors
  • Going out every night
  • Change in friends or peer group
  • Change in clothing or appearance
  • Unusual smells on clothing or breath
  • Heavy use of over-the-counter preparations to reduce eye reddening, nasal irritation, or bad breath
  • Hidden stashes of alcohol
  • Alcohol missing from your supply
  • Prescription medicine missing
  • Visiting on-line pharmacy internet sites
  • Money missing
  • Valuables missing
  • Disappearances for long periods of time
  • Running away
  • Secretive phone calls
  • Unusual containers or wrappers

Source: The Partnership for a Drug-Free America

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