Signs of Drug Abuse – Seven Clues to Look For

This question is one of the most often asked when one of our presenters is speaking to a group of parents or teachers. How to tell if a young person is abusing drugs?

While there is no single way to know with certainty when a person has started experimenting with drugs, there are actually many changes that can indicate drug use. These changes are in the areas of appearance, mannerisms and attitude. Also there can be changes in participation in group activities, a lessening in motivation toward prior goals and a lowering of his/her general willingness to help.

Because a person on drugs usually needs to hide his activities, usual mannerisms begin to change. This “hiding” shows up in many ways, no matter how much he tries to make everything appear normal.

Watch for Changes in the General Mannerisms

1. The person cannot comfortably look you in the eye when speaking,being spoken to or approached.

Even though this is sometimes merely a sign of low communication skills and basic shyness, when it shows up as a change, it is often an indicator of drugs.

2. The person is very unreliable.

The person is not dependable, shows up late to school/work and it keeps getting worse, despite efforts at correction.

3. Generally sad, grumpy or a not caring attitude.

This could be the person’s normal way. However it is also a tip-off that there is a drug abuse problem, especially if it is a sudden change from the usual.

4. Short attention span, does not listen well.

Children are easily distracted. That is why the average kid’s TV show is a constantly changing, flash-flash of images. Keeping them focused can be a challenge. But the inability to focus could also indicate a drug use problem, especially if it is a relatively recent change.

5. Sudden change in friends.

Another strong indicator is a sudden change in friends, especially if the new group acts a suspiciously and rarely wants to be around the parents or in the house. This is another way that the person separates himself from those who might not agree with his new activities.

6. Monday morning ‘blahs’.

Some of the new “club drugs” often leave the user with a pronounced depression the day or even days after they are used. The more often these drugs are used, the longer the period of depression can last.

7. Changes in sleeping or eating habits.

Normal sleep habits very often change when a person begins to use drugs regularly. They might stay up late and then sleep away the day. They also might begin to sleep very little for long periods and then sleep solidly for 36 hours. these are indications of drug abuse.

Always be alert

At first you might not see any physical signs of drug use. It takes time for the body to show the effects, especially when drug abuse starts

Again, the most important things to be alert for are sudden changes in attitudes, and behavior patterns. Of course, the process of growing up is a process of change, but things like being tired all morning, or suddenly happy or awake after lunch or a break could mean the person is using drugs to get through the day.