15 Signs to Know that Somebody is Using Drugs

May 24, 2017
Anna Jankowska, LCPC

By Anna Jankowska, MA, CEAP, SAP, LCPC

Anna Jankowska is a mental health, addiction, and substance abuse counselor with over 17 years of experience and has specialized training and skill in working with individuals, groups and communities to improve mental health outcomes. NPI number: 1598843526

Substance abuse is an issue that is more prevalent than many people think, and it can affect anyone, including adults who are employed. A 2011 survey found that eight percent of adults who work full time and 10 percent of adults who work part time have a drug problem. Those are pretty high numbers!

Employers who read those figures may be concerned about the impact drug abuse can have on the workplace and rightly so since substance abuse can indeed impact employee performance. But that is not the only area of life drug abuse affects. Substance abuse can impact all areas of life and is a problem for not only employed adults but people from all walks of life. Employers, family members, friends and teachers have the potential to put a stop to the damaging effects of substance abuse, so everyone should be aware of the signs that someone is abusing drugs. Below are fifteen signs that someone has a drug problem.

  • Changes in Work Attendance or Performance – Someone who is abusing drugs may begin having attendance issues at work. They may be tardy or miss days altogether. They may also display a drop-in performance when they are at work.
  • Appetite or Weight Changes – Depending on what drug they are using, someone with a drug problem may either want to eat a lot more food or a lot less food. This could result in either gaining weight or losing weight.
  • Altered Energy Levels – Both drugs and alcohol can impact how much energy someone has. Some drug users become lethargic and find it difficult to do anything. Others may find themselves experiencing an unusual burst of hyperactivity. It all depends on what drug they are using.
  • Changes in Personal Care Habits – People who are abusing drugs might stop taking showers, brushing their teeth, shaving or anything else relating to caring for themselves. They may not care about how they look.
  • Physical Evidence of Substance Abuse – One strong sign of a problem is finding empty bottles of alcohol or other drug paraphernalia around the house or in other places. People who are using drugs often try to hide these items in secret places to make them harder to find.
  • Secretive Behavior – Those who are using substances may not want anyone else to know what they are up to. They may become evasive when asked about their behavior or intentions.
  • Financial Difficulties – Substance abuse can lead to financial problems because drug users have to find ways to cover the cost of their habit. They may pull money out of savings, sell items or not pay bills on time.
  • Changes in Personality – If someone is showing unexpected and sudden changes in how they act, there is a possibility these personality changes are due to drug use.
  • Loss of Interest – Those who use a drug may lose interest in activities they formerly enjoyed. They may lose interest in everything except for using drugs.
  • Decreased Motivation – Along with a loss of interest comes decreased motivation. Those who abuse a drug may lose the motivation to go to work, school or achieve any goals.
  • Mood Swings – Those who are using substances can experience severe changes in mood. They may have outbursts of anger or frequent crying spells.
  • Fear and Anxiety – Drug users can experience fear and anxiety for no real reason. They might be paranoid because of the effects of the drug they are using.
  • Defensiveness – If a drug user is asked about his or her problem, they might try to deny it or downplay it.
  • Lack of Control – Someone who is abusing a substance might not be able to stop using even if they try. They might also not be able to control how much of a substance they use.
  • Taking Risks – Substance abusers might engage in risky behavior that endangers their health or other people such as driving under the influence.

There are many other signs of drug use, and the signs can be different depending on what substance is involved. The important thing to remember is that if someone is experience a drug problem, there is professional help available.

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