Learn more about the signs of drug addiction

Knowing the warning signs of drug addiction can be a matter of life and death.

Early discovery of a drug problem can prevent dependency and other long-term health consequences.

Most importantly, if you believe a loved one is abusing drugs, seek help. UPMC offers a variety of Addiction Treatment Services that can help you determine the best course of action and treatment. Contact Addiction Medicine Services at 412-692-CARE (2273) for help.

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Facts About Drug Use

Drug addiction does not occur suddenly. It usually begins by abusing small amounts, and over time progresses into dependency.

Drug abuse takes many different forms, and the signs can vary greatly from person to person. You can begin to tell if someone is using drugs through a few physical, behavioral, and social changes.

How You Can Identify the Signs of Drug Use

Physical signs of drug use

Some of the most telling signs of chronic drug use are physical changes to the body, both externally and internally. Some physical changes associated with drug use include:

  • Eyes that are often red, bloodshot, or glassy
  • Unusually widened or tiny pupils
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Constantly runny or bloody nose
  • Change in hygiene habits

Though more difficult to determine, internal changes such as unexpected heart or organ problems can also be signs of chronic drug abuse.

Contact Addiction Medicine Services at 412-692-CARE (2273)

Behavioral and social signs of drug use

Behavioral changes associated with drug abuse include:

  • Decreased and/or increased appetite
  • Unusual sleep patterns and chronic fatigue
  • Mood swings and general personality changes
  • Decreased interest in his or her personal appearance
  • Depression or anxiety

Some people suffering from drug addiction may begin to shift their social circles or change their daily habits. Different friends, separation from family, and unexpected changes in their activity, work, or school performance are all signs of drug abuse.

RELATED: Benefits of Quitting Alcohol for a Month

Warning Signs of Drug Use in Teens

What’s the difference between the symptoms of drug abuse and typical teenage mood swings? Signs your teenager may have a substance abuse problem include:

  • Difficulty remembering simple information
  • Smelling the substance on their clothes or in their room after time with friends
  • Secretive behavior, such as needing small amounts of money on a regular basis
  • Sudden changes in their friends’ group
  • Quitting favorite sports or activities
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About UPMC Western Behavioral Health

UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital is the hub of UPMC Behavioral Health, a network of community-based programs providing specialized mental health and addiction care for children, adolescents, adults, and seniors. Our mission is to provide comprehensive, compassionate care to people of all ages with mental health conditions. UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital is a nationally recognized leader in mental health clinical care, research, and education. It is one of the nation’s foremost university-based psychiatric care facilities through its integration with the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. We are here to help at every stage of your care and recovery.