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General Signs and Symptoms of Drug or Alcohol Abuse

Detailed information on the physical and behavioral signs of drug and alcohol abuse.

If you notice unexplained changes in physical appearance or behavior, it may be a sign of drug abuse - or it could be a sign of another problem. You will not know definitively until a professional does a screening.

Physical Signs

  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slurred or agitated speech
  • Sudden or dramatic weight loss or gain
  • Skin abrasions/bruises
  • Neglected appearance/poor hygiene
  • Sick more frequently
  • Accidents or injuries

Behavioral Signs

  • Detailed information on the physical and behavioral signs of drug and alcohol abuse.Hiding use; lying and covering up
  • Sense that the person will "do anything" to use again regardless of consequences
  • Loss of control or choice of use (drug-seeking behavior)
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Emotional instability
  • Hyperactive or hyper-aggressive Depression
  • Missing school or work
  • Failure to fulfill responsibilities at school or work
  • Complaints from teachers or co-workers
  • Reports of intoxication at school or work
  • Furtive or secretive behavior
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Locked doors
  • Going out every night
  • Change in friends or peer group
  • Change in clothing or appearance
  • Unusual smells on clothing or breath
  • Heavy use of over-the-counter preparations to reduce eye reddening, nasal irritation, or bad breath
  • Hidden stashes of alcohol
  • Alcohol missing from your supply
  • Prescription medicine missing
  • Money missing
  • Valuables missing
  • Disappearances for long periods of time
  • Running away
  • Secretive phone calls
  • Unusual containers or wrappers

Sources:

  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • American Institute for Preventive Medicine

next: Support Groups for Alcoholism - Drug Abuse and Addiction
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APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2008, December 21). General Signs and Symptoms of Drug or Alcohol Abuse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/addictions/articles/signs-symptoms-drug-alcohol-abuse

Last Updated: June 28, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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