How Do Drug Addicts Behave?
There is no “one-size-fits-all” image of how a drug addict looks or acts, but there are some symptoms that come along with drug abuse and addiction that could raise concerns among friends and family members. Some of these common signs of drug abuse include:
- Behavioral changes, including increased irritability and sudden mood swings
- Declining mental health, which may include anxiety or depression
- Drastic changes in their habits, such as their sleeping habits
- Physical signs, such as weight loss or dental decay
- Lack of motivation to pursue new hobbies or maintain relationships
- Defensiveness when you bring up signs of drug use
Signs of Abuse Related to Specific Substances
While substance abuse can cause similar behavior changes among all addicts, as noted above, there are substance-specific signs that you should also be weary of.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol is one of the most widely abused substances in the country. Given the easy accessibility of alcohol, even young adults can fall into the trap of misusing it as a means of escapism.
Before long, alcohol addiction can develop, leading to noticeable side effects, like:
- Drinking often and finding it hard to stop after one or two drinks
- Preference to drink alone or at odd times, like when they first wake up
- Continuing to consume alcohol, even when it causes strain in their relationships
- Drinking alcohol despite negative implications on their responsibilities and/or physical health
- Signs of depression, anger, and mood swings
Marijuana is now openly sold in multiple states which that makes it easier than ever for adults and adolescents to get their hands on cannabis. Marijuana can also be introduced to a person in many forms, including edibles, which can make it easy to over-consume the substance.
If someone you know begins to misuse marijuana, you may notice:
- Increased appetite and weight gain
- Slowed reaction time
- Memory loss and forgetfulness
- A sense of paranoia or suspicion
- Bloodshot eyes and droopy eyelids
- A mellowed demeanor and shifting priorities
Stimulants speed up the body’s systems, which means someone who is actively using stimulants may seem more energetic or “wired” than usual.
However, as they grow tolerant to them, stimulants have less of an effect and long-term use can cause:
- Changes in behavior, including increased aggression
- Insomnia (inability to fall asleep and stay asleep)
- Dilated pupils
- Bursts of increased energy
- Delusions, paranoia, or hostility as the addiction progresses
- Nasal congestion can happen if they snort the drug they use due to damage to the mucus membranes inside the nasal cavities
Benzodiazepines and barbiturates are types of central nervous system depressants, which means they slow the body down. Medically, they’re used to treat sleep and anxiety disorders, but misuse can lead to sedation and a feeling of heavy intoxication.
Someone using these drugs may exhibit:
- Loss of inhibitions
- Balance issues and dizziness
- Reduced energy and loss of motivation
- Involuntary eye movements known as “nystagmus”
Hallucinogens come in many forms and some drugs have very distinct traits. For instance, LSD can make a person act impulsively whereas PCP can seem indifferent to pain while being extremely sensitive to noise.
Use of hallucinogens can lead to:
- Hallucinations (seeing, hearing, and feeling things that aren’t there)
- Muscle twitching
- Difficulty distinguishing between what’s real and what isn’t
Opioids include illicit drugs such as heroin along with prescription painkillers like Oxycontin and Vicodin. Opioids act as a central nervous system depressant, but they also interact with dopamine receptors in the brain, producing a short-lived euphoric high. They are extremely addicting, so a person will rapidly start using more as time goes by.
Addiction can appear as:
- Sedation, even lethargy
- Slowed reaction time
- Trouble remembering things
- Inability to concentrate
- Mood swings
- Constipation and other digestive issues
- Flu-like symptoms and anxiety if they try to quit or go too long between uses
7. Club Drugs
There are countless club drugs and they can all affect the body in very different ways, but three of the most common include ketamine, ecstasy, and GHB. If someone is using club drugs, they’re likely doing so in a party or rave setting and they may be mixing them with alcohol, which can be especially dangerous.
The signs of club drug use include:
- Increased body temperature and excessive sweating
- Lack of coordination
- Clenched teeth
- Slurred speech
At Zinnia Health, we believe every individual can recover from drug use as long as they have the right support behind them. If you’d like more information about our approach, look for treatment options in your area or call (855) 430-9439.
What to Do if Someone Is Addicted to Drugs
If you think someone you love is dealing with a substance use disorder, it can be very difficult to decide how to approach them. The first conversation might be tough, and they might shut you out, but you have to keep trying to get through to them before their addiction turns fatal. Here are some ways to do that to keep yourself and your friend or family member safe.
1. Educate Yourself on Substance Use
Before approaching your friend or family member, take the time to understand how the addiction cycle works. It’s important that you do not blame them for the problem and that you take their side, using supportive language. You can also help them understand the potential consequences of drug abuse, especially if you’re able to narrow down their substance use to a certain type of drug.
2. Find Resources in Your Area
Finding resources in your area that can help an individual dealing with a drug problem is a good next step to take before you reach out to them. In the event that the person is receptive to you and willing to get help, you would want to act on that right away, so take the time to explore treatment facilities and other outlets in your area experienced with behavioral health and addiction treatment.
3. Have a Conversation With Them
Once you’re armed with information, approach the person in a place where they feel secure. Pay attention to their body language and be very mindful of your tone and the words you use. Instead of outright asking them about drug or alcohol use, you might try to discuss the changes you’ve noticed in their mental or physical health and ask an open-ended question about what you can do to support them.
4. Keep Checking In On Them
It’s unlikely the first conversation will lead to sudden changes in a person’s lifestyle, and it’s important to keep checking in on them so they know they’re not alone. By being there for them without judgment and without constantly trying to push them to change, they will likely come to you when they’re ready to talk further about their drug use. The most important thing is to support their well-being as best you can.
5. Offer to Help Them Pursue Treatment
Once the person seems receptive to treatment, offer to help them in any way that you can. This could include finding a treatment center that takes their insurance, driving them to their first appointment, or even going with them to any outpatient services or support groups they’re willing to attend. This can hold them accountable and help them start the recovery process and stick to it.
Are you looking for a confidential treatment program that can help you overcome substance use? Explore the treatment options in your area or call our team today at (855) 430-9439 to learn more about our treatment options.