Addiction is a horrible disease. Depending on the substance and frequency of use, addiction affects every individual differently. That is why it is not always easy to know how to tell if someone is using drugs.

Often, addiction begins with the recreational use of drugs or alcohol. It will then turn into dependency as the body becomes reliant on the substance to feel normal. As addiction progresses and increases in scope, the toll it takes on the mind and body will present itself in various ways. 

Sometimes it may be hard to recognize if someone needs help, as signs of addiction vary from person to person. However, knowing the symptoms of addiction is crucial to saving the life a friend or family member’s life. 

Not every person suffering from substance abuse will show all of the following signs. Still, you should be careful if your loved one shows one or a combination of them.

Withdrawal Symptoms 

Withdrawal symptoms will likely occur when someone who depends on drugs or alcohol is no longer consuming substances. Even if he or she tries to hide the symptoms of withdrawal, most are physical and noticeable. Certain drugs have different withdrawal symptoms than others. The withdrawal symptoms that a person with an addiction will exhibit often depends on the length of time and amount a person has been using. 

Common withdrawal symptoms include the following:

Withdrawal From Life and Suspicious Behavior  

One common way to know how to tell if someone is using drugs is to pay attention to the individual’s social and emotional behaviors. Is the person withdrawing from you? People who are abusing drugs or alcohol will often begin to withdraw from friends and family. They usually hide their addictions to consume larger amounts of their drugs of choice in private.

You may also notice that the individual is not meeting obligations like school or work responsibilities. The person may even cut back on hobbies, exercise, social, or other recreational activities that were once enjoyable to them. 

Individuals who suffer from a drug or alcohol addiction will act suspicious. They may hide their drugs or alcohol in their homes, cars, or in other places that are close to them. For example, people that suffer from an addiction to prescription drugs may keep multiple prescription bottles (from different doctors) in their car. Those people may then act anxious, nervous, or agitated when asked if you can borrow their car for an errand. 

You may notice your loved ones with addictions sneaking off to engage in activities they never had an interest in before. They may also offer getting groceries at odd hours, or visit someone you’ve never heard of from “work.”

You may even find your loved ones with addictions hiding their phones or keeping their phones turned upside down. They may be doing this so that they can wait for calls from dealers. This is because people with addictions are often secretive about their daily schedules. 

Dishonesty Can Be a Tell-Tale Sign

If you really want to know how to tell if someone is using drugs, pay attention to how often that person lies to you. Frequent lying is an apparent sign that someone is hiding an addiction. This is because it requires a lot of lying to hide something as major as addiction from your loved ones. An example of a lie that your loved ones with addictions may tell you is that they are going to hang out with friends when in reality they are meeting up with a drug dealer or going to another doctor’s office to try to get more prescription drugs. 

If you ask your loved ones that are hiding addictions if they are using drugs, they will likely lie to your face and tell you, no. Even if your loved ones do admit to misusing drugs, they will likely lie about the amount of drugs that they have been misusing. 

Because maintaining an addiction often requires lying, even people that were never liars before, start to become professionals at it. Therefore, you shouldn’t be offended or take it personally once you notice that your loved ones are hiding their addictions and are always lying to you now.

Lying to Oneself

In fact, people that hide addictions do not just lie to their family and friends. They often tend to lie to themselves as well. One lie that people that hide addictions often tell themselves is that they can stop using drugs at any time. This may even be a lie that one of your loved ones with addictions has told you before. 

If you’re certain that your loved one is using drugs and lying about it, you can confront that person by having an intervention. An intervention is a planned meeting with a loved one that is suffering from an addiction and that person’s closest family members and friends. The purpose of the intervention is to convince the person that is suffering from addiction to seek treatment. When at an intervention, you should always speak to your loved one with the addiction from a place of love. 

Physical Changes, Strong Smells and Poor Hygiene

A more obvious way to know how to tell if someone is using drugs is to pay attention to any changes in the way that person maintains his or her physical appearance. People who have a substance use disorder or addiction tend to stop maintaining their appearance. They may even exhibit unusual physical changes. 

Smoking drugs like marijuana and producing drugs like meth can create strong, pungent, and lingering odors. Even with dry, odorless herb vaporizers or vape pens (sometimes called “dab” pens), the smell of marijuana is still detectable. 

Common physical changes that result from substance abuse include:

Changes in Social Circles

Another way to know how to tell if someone is using drugs is to pay attention to changes in that person’s social circle. For example, if a loved one that is hiding an addiction always used to hang out with the same small group of friends that he or she has had since high school and all of a sudden your loved one shows up somewhere with a sketchy much older guy as a friend, this could be a sign that your loved one is using drugs. 

Age isn’t the only change that you can notice within a person’s social circle. Another social circle change that people that hide addictions often exhibit is going from hanging out with people that took care of their physical appearance, to people that do not. “Birds of a feather, flock together.” Therefore, like the declining physical appearance of your loved one that is hiding an addiction, other people that sell and use drugs may often look unkempt.  

Risky Behavior

When people get to a certain point in their drug use habit, they are always exhibiting risky behavior. This is a sign that they have developed an addiction. 

Risky behavior is any behavior that puts the person that is performing it in harm’s way. A common form of risky behavior that people that suffer from addiction often make is sexual behaviors. For example, someone that has an addiction may suddenly start having sexual relationships with several different people without using protection. 

Another example of risky behavior that people with addictions may exhibit is behaviors that could get those people killed. For example, people with addictions can be so risky that they decide to drive while under the influence of substances. Not only could such a behavior kill the person that is suffering from addiction, but it could kill innocent bystanders as well. 

A third example of risky behavior that someone that is hiding an addiction may exhibit is behaviors that could get him or her in trouble with the law. For example, people with addictions may be so desperate to get drugs that they will steal them. Over time, people that hide addictions may exhibit so many risky behaviors that they may lose their jobs or get into other kinds of trouble. 

Mood Swings

Drugs and alcohol can cause a person to go through erratic mood swings. A friend who misuses amphetamines is tired and lethargic one minute, and then speaking fast, with lots of energy the next. A co-worker who abuses opioids may be sweaty and agitated with flu-like symptoms in the morning and then calm, euphoric, and relaxed that afternoon.

Financial Issues/Loss 

Those who have a substance use disorder or addiction go through sudden unexplainable financial problems. This is because, when people are deep within addiction, they’ll do whatever it takes to get their substances of choice. 

Many people with addiction will steal money when they do not have the funds to pay for substances themselves. Eventually, people with addiction will just choose to spend all of their money on substances. This may cause those people to have to sell their items to pay off their dealers. If nothing else, being this reckless with money will leave those people in debt. 

Addiction and Treatment

Many people who suffer from drugs or alcohol addiction will try to keep their substance use hidden as long as possible. Unfortunately, this behavior only allows them to continue to have an addiction.  By continuing to have an addiction, these people will remain sick and suffering for way too long. 

If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction, the first step toward recovery starts at Daylight Recovery Services. The primary objective of our inpatient, detox services is to help clients become sober through alcohol and drug detoxification. We also aim to create individual treatment plans for recovery to get to the root of everyone’s issue. Therapies used in this process work around the client’s specific substance abuse circumstances. 

There is no cure for addiction, but it is treatable and recovery is possible. To learn more about Daylight Recovery and the different ways that you can know how to tell if someone is using drugs, contact us today.