April 11, 2020 Alcohol

Is My Loved One Using Drugs Or Alcohol?

Parents, family members, and friends are in the best position to determine if a loved one is using drugs or alcohol.  If you have landed on this page due to a similar concern, we’re here to help. Early identification and intervention is crucial, and the information provided below is meant to start the process.

Each person responds to drugs differently. Factors that influence the unique reaction include:

  • Biological Sex
  • Age
  • Weight
  • Drug-Drug Interactions
  • Genetics
  • Other physical or mental health conditions

It’s important that family members and loved ones stay open-minded about potential signs or symptoms of use.  Keep in mind that these can be related to other illnesses or mental health problems. However, with drug use, you will typically notice a drastic change as the use becomes more serious.  Additionally, there are unique signs and symptoms related to drug use that are hard to miss.

Here are some general physical signs and symptoms that your loved one may be using drugs:

  • Dilated or pin-point pupils, bloodshot eyes
  • Changes in hygiene
  • Skin sores
  • Drastic weight loss or weight gain
  • Increased hunger or decreased appetite
  • Increased psychomotor agitation (i.e. twitching, pacing, scratching)
  • Grinding teeth, clenched jaw
  • Nose bleeds
  • Infections, particularly at injection sites

Behavioral Signs:

  • A shift in social circles or friends
  • Increased dishonesty or “secrets”
  • Leaving home at all hours of the day and night, without somewhere specific to be
  • Not coming home on time, or at all
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Asking for money
  • Stealing property or money
  • Increased discipline at work or job loss
  • Isolation
  • Absenteeism or job loss

It can be very hard to identify whether or not a loved one’s behavior is due to drug use. The following signs are to help identify if your loved one is using a specific substance. Know the above general signs and more specific signs can be helpful.

Below is a list of different substances and warning signs of their use. If you are already aware of a loved ones use and are looking for help, contact us today.

Cannabis or “Marijuana” Use Signs

Feelings of euphoria

Poor coordination and forgetfulness

Binge eating episodes

Paranoia or suspicious behavior

Mellow or relaxed demeanor

Paraphernalia- bongs, pipes, etc.

Alcohol Use Signs

Poor coordination

Smells of alcohol

Hides bottles or their drinking

Poor memory from blacking out

Mood swings

Bruises from falls, or other injuries

Drinks alone, or first thing in the morning (common, but not required)

Sleep disturbances

Stimulant Use Signs- Prescription Stimulants (Adderall), Methamphetamine, Cocaine

Frequent behavior changes

Aggression, hostility, or reactivity

Increased energy

Decreased appetite

Mood swings- depressed mood or over-sleeping may occur during the “come down”

Nose bleeds or nasal congestion if the drug is being snorted

Increased sex drive, or decreased sex drive with chronic use

“Track” marks on arms, legs, feet, neck, etc.

Skin picking or open sores

Abscesses or infections

Benzodiazepines or Sedatives (Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan)


Appears drunk



Depressed mood or behavior

Problems with memory due to blackouts that occur under the influence


Hallucinogens (LSD/Acid, PCP, Shrooms)

Behavior can vary with these substances, depending on the “trip,” particularly with LSD.

Some people may appear relaxed, while others are terrified or erratic.

Visual or auditory hallucinations

Impulsive and risky behavior

Difficulty differentiating between reality and hallucination

Drowsy or agitated behavior

Opioids or “Narcotics” like Prescription Painkillers, Heroin, or Fentanyl

Sedation- may “nod off”

Memory problems

Poor concentration

Lethargic or sleepy

Mood swing

Constipation or GI issues

“Track” marks on arms, legs, feet, neck, etc.

Skin picking or open sores

Abscesses or infections

We understand that worrying and trying to identify symptoms or signs in a family member can be a stressful process. We try to simplify the process of getting help as much as possible. It all starts with a simple phone call. Oftentimes, families find that the support our staff offers makes all the difference.