Signs of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Substance abuse can impact individuals across all races, genders and classes.


Many of those close to substance abusers often wonder if there were any early warning signs that they should have seen or known about in order to help prevent or stop substance dependence.


While you can’t always stop or prevent such abuse, there are some signs that all of us should be aware of and look out for in our loved ones.

All types of substance abuse such as drug and alcohol abuse have many of the same signs.  Substance abuse can impact the body’s health, create changes in physical behaviors and lead to psychological changes in behavior.


Knowing the early warning signs of such abuse, you can know when to seek help for friends and family members.  Early invention for both drug and alcohol abuse are successful in stopping such abuse and preventing the lasting negative health impacts of long-term substance abuse.


Outward Signs of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

There are a number of physical signs of drug and alcohol abuse and changes to physical appearance that can indicate someone may be involved in substance abuse.


While some of these signs can be indicators of physical illness or stress, these physical signs can also indicate the onset of a serious substance abuse problem.

•    Changes in eating habits, loss or increase in appetite
•    Bloodshot eyes, watery eyes and abnormal pupil sizes
•    Odors from the body
•    Changes in sleeping habits, insomnia or increased sleepiness
•    Needle marks on arms or legs
•    Problems with physical coordination, walking slow or swaying
•    Excessive sweat, shaking and trembling
•    Rubbing of nose and face
•    Lack of attention to physical hygiene or appearance.


Physical Behaviors

In addition to changes in appearance, those involved in substance abuse often have physical changes in their behaviors.


These changes are noticeable by those who live, work and go to school with those who are dealing with substance abuse. It might be important to ask those who are around your concerned loved ones to see if they see or notice any of the following signs:

•    Frequent lateness to school or work, high absenteeism
•    Withdrawal from others and normal activities, hiding whereabouts, keeping secrets
•    Changes in associates and friends
•    Getting into physical fights and conflicts
•    Sudden financial problems, borrowing money more frequently
•    Stealing.


Psychological Changes

Substance abuse takes a toll on mental well-being and psychological health.  People who are heavily into substance abuse change the way they engage and interact with others.

•    Loss of interest in once enjoyable activities
•    Changes in personality
•    Increased moodiness and irritability, frequent mood changes
•    Paranoid behaviors, anxiousness
•    Lack of focus, no motivation.


Noticing an isolated or single change in a person’s behavior and attitude is not a good indicator of substance abuse.


Rather, persons who embody a combination of the physical, behavioral and psychological changes associated with substance abuse may indicate that they have or are developing a substance abuse problem.


All of the collective issues, can be addressed at a private clinic for rehabilitation, such as


These indicators can help you identify substance abuse in your friends and family and help them to seek early addiction treatments and interventions.