When a person is struggling with drug abuse, obtaining drugs becomes the primary focus of life. The importance of family, friends, and work falls by the wayside as the drug user spirals into addiction. The signs of abuse may vary, as different drugs cause different effects on the mental and physical health of the abuser, but the overall signs of substance abuse remain the same.
Drugs such as cocaine which act as stimulants, rev up the body. A drug abuser who is addicted to drugs like cocaine will often be unable to sleep. The abuser's metabolism and blood pressure level may increase as well. Other drugs that slow down the body, such as barbiturates, will lower blood pressure levels and mental alertness. Even the abuser's breathing will slow down.
People who are struggling with drug abuse will experience other physical symptoms depending on the type of drug being abused. Those who abuse stimulants may behave in a hyperactive manner or experience an abrupt weight loss. People who abuse drugs like barbiturates will require excessive amounts of sleep or experience drastic weight gain. They may move more slowly, exhibit slower speech, appear disoriented, or seem confused.
Drug addicts may abruptly begin to change their way of dressing. Those who inject drugs with needles might begin to wear long-sleeved shirts all the time in hopes of hiding their arms. People who snort drugs may suffer from chronic nosebleeds or sinus problems.
Drug abusers who smoke drugs may experience frequent cases of bronchitis or chronic coughs. Their coughs may produce large amounts of blood or mucus. Substance abusers who abuse the drug methamphetamine may even be plagued with serious dental problems.
The emotional signs of substance abuse are just as varied as the physical signs. For example, some addicts may have difficulty controlling their tempers, easily becoming angry or agitated. They may even resort to violence.
Other addicts may remain persistently cheerful, talkative, or energetic. On the other hand, some drug addicts may appear overly calm and emotionally distant, unaware of the world around them. Some addicts will look depressed or suffer from hallucinations and delusions.
Teenagers dealing with drug abuse may display drastic changes in behavior. They may suddenly begin having difficulties at school or appear more withdrawn. Some teens who are addicted to drugs may either be unable to sleep or desire to sleep all of the time. Perhaps they have new friends they have begun to associate with or have developed the habit of stealing. A combination of these factors may suggest that a teen has developed a drug addiction.