Substance abuse is a complex condition where a person continuously uses a substance without considering its harmful effects. It changes people’s behavior, physical appearance, and how they interact in social settings. Identifying drug addiction is difficult and needs an understanding of any symptoms and their causes.
Often, we confuse substance abuse with psychological problems, anger issues, or teenage moodiness. The signs of substance abuse may depend on the drug they are using. Accordingly, you can analyze three aspects: physical changes, behavioral problems, and social interactions. Below are some common symptoms that help indicate if someone is suffering from substance use disorder (SUD).
The physical side effects of substance abuse are often easily recognizable and occur instantly. The signs relate to the nature of the substance, way of administration, the quantity, and the frequency of abuse. The skin texture and soreness of eyes are common areas that reflect substance abuse, but they must not be considered definitive.
Occurrence of Symptoms
When substance abuse starts, some symptoms immediately appear. Your mouth is always dry, and you feel food is either very spicy or tasteless. Also, cravings for some food items increase. High blood pressure and heart rate are also evident here. We have found that substance abusers have less concern for personal hygiene.
Addicted people face the problem of frequently sniffing as drugs affect a person’s sinuses. If you think you are facing this problem, notice whether you are coughing more than usual or have itching in your mouth or nasal areas. The weight changes are also common in this case. Depending on the type of drug, a person can gain or lose weight, thus changing the overall physical appearance. If you notice some of these signs in yourself, a friend, or a family member, explore all your options for substance abuse rehabilitation, especially inpatient rehab for long-term benefits and professional support in overcoming drug abuse. Early identification of a substance use disorder can help you ease the problem in its primary stages.
Substance abuse tolerance refers to the condition where the body gets used to a drug and, as a result, needs a larger volume of that drug or a different one. The tolerance level of substance abusers is usually high, forcing them to consume more drugs than usual. If you take a prescribed dose of a drug but have the desire to take more without any reason, it is a strong indication of addiction leading to abuse.
A substance abuser always has drug paraphernalia with him or in his place of residence or work. It can be anything but not necessarily limited to syringes, pipes, cigarette wrapping papers, cotton swabs, razor blades, lighters, flasks, burnt spoons or bottle caps, roach clips, or medicine bottles. These are the items with which a substance can be retrieved, manufactured, stored, concealed, processed, or consumed.
Remember, not all drugs require paraphernalia, but it is good to keep an eye out for unusual items a person is carrying if he shows some other signs.
Substance abusers usually exhibit reclusive and secretive behavior. Isolating themselves during some parts of the day, locking the doors, and avoiding meeting anyone is normal for them. An abuser keeps segments of life private, never sharing the places or people they visit. They are aware of the social stigma and shame that comes with drug addiction, so they hide their activities from people.
Substance abuse can make even the most stable people suffer from mood swings, especially when the problem reaches a serious stage. You begin having trouble doing everyday chores like cooking or cleaning. Also, you always face problems, like tripping over things, getting into accidents, and fighting with others over small things. Our research also shows that you or your loved one may struggle with maintaining limits. You start losing control of yourself and cross boundaries set by others or yourself.
Substance abuse can force you to behave differently in a social setting as the symptoms become more prominent. The problem is that changes occurring in an abuser impact their family, friends, peers, and sometimes the whole society in a particular way. As a result, it becomes a social problem.
Changing Friends and Hobbies
A big sign of substance abuse is the person starts to move to a different group of friends. You prefer spending time with people who are also substance abusers and do not consider it wrong. The places you frequent also change to pubs, bars, clubs, or areas where you can easily consume drugs and alcohol. Your hobbies and activities change, and you stop cherishing the things you previously enjoyed.
The money problem is one of the biggest signs of drug abuse, especially when it comes to gambling disorders. But, why?
Substance abusers are always in denial about their problems. The continual need for more and more drugs and alcohol forces them to overspend. An abuser will either blame others or the circumstances but will never accept that his addiction is making him waste the finances on useless or illegal things. You start neglecting the important things and prioritize your choice of substance.
Whether intimate or family relationships or friendships, substance abuse hurts all relationships at some point. Over 7% of marriages end in divorce due to one partner being a substance abuser, unfortunately, a big number. Addiction causes rifts in relationships as the abuser cannot build and maintain healthy connections. It leads to a lack of self-esteem for all the people involved and compromised support systems. If you think you or your loved one is facing relationship issues, be considerate enough to assess if they have any addiction problems.
Why should you see a doctor?
The big question is what to do when all these signs are visible. It may be intimidating to get professional help for yourself or others but remember that seeing a doctor is critical in such a situation. Find a skilled healthcare expert who can efficiently diagnose your problem, guide you about the treatment or rehab programs, support you emotionally, and maintain your right to confidentiality.
It is important to inform your healthcare provider about your medical history, especially if there has been a case of substance abuse previously. A doctor can suggest the best therapies and medications and refer you to support groups considering all factors.
Substance abuse is not just about using illegal drugs; it is also a hazard to your mental and physical health while compromising your social life. If you or a person you know is showing some or all these signs, you must consult a doctor to identify the underlying issue. Indeed, substance abuse is a social dilemma. However, it is well-researched, and rehab centers play an essential role in helping the affected people.