Drugs change a person psychologically, emotionally and physically. Some changes can be difficult to notice, others appear very soon. Significant behavioral changes as the body reacts to the appearance of the drug are often the first sign of substance abuse. Some people may begin spending time with new friends who also take drugs, avoid spending time at home, stop answer their phone when they are out, make excuses and tell lies. Sneaking around and out of the house, avoiding contact and stealing money may also indicate drug use.
Physical signs of drug use are varied but include red eyes, dilated or pin-prick pupils, sweating, pale skin, runny nose, coughing and chemical-like body odor. Some users will experience weight loss or weight gain, insomnia and poor physical coordination. Many of these symptoms will be brushed aside if another makes mention of them, or they will be angry and accusatory when questioned.
Health problems are common amongst regular drug users. Drugs reduce the ability of the immune system to fight of mild viruses such as colds or flu, so a drug taker may be sick regularly. Exhaustion and dehydration from drug use can also become an issue. A user may appear constantly tired, have dark circles around their eyes and have difficulty staying awake.
Certain drugs make a person exhibit aggression and violence towards people that they otherwise are close with. Children, partners and friends may be on the wrong side of someone when they are going through a state of aggression from a drug such as methamphetamine. This type of drug causes a person to exhibit extreme emotions without any pattern. An otherwise normal person may lash out and hit or abuse those around them or become irrational, angry and paranoid. This can be a scary and risky time for others to be around that person.
Antisocial behavior is common among certain drug users. They make begin to spend time with other people who are involved in gangs or groups who are a public nuisance. Some may even begin to commit crimes to fund their drug use or pass the time when they are high. This has many long term consequences that the drug user may not consider when they are under the influence.
When coming down after the high of being on a drug, a person will often be exhausted, depressed and unwilling to socialize. They make excuses to avoid eating with others, attend school or go to work. They may stay in their room or sleep a lot. This is because drugs can make a person enter into a state of severe exhaustion, especially if taken in a binge fashion. Regular use of a drug can lead to loss of motivation to succeed at school, university or work. Exhaustion overrides their ability to mind their appearance, their family or themselves.
Some drugs make people very talkative and excitable, making them appear hyperactive. They may also have a strong desire to touch others, become sexually aroused easily or even be unrelenting about their need for sex. Other drugs make a person hallucinate or appear distant and vague.
There are many symptoms of long-term drug use. They may include relationship problems, financial difficulties and loss of job or home. The person may have an excuse for these problems and make up lies about where there money has gone, what they have been doing and who they have been with. They may also become involved with other drug users and begin to spend excessive amounts of time with these people purely for the purpose of taking drugs.
Extended, chronic use of drugs is known to contribute to the risk of developing psychosis or other behavioral problems. A psychosis can happen to anyone. The person may exhibit bizarre and unusual behavior, including lapses in attention, memory impairment, incoherent speech and delusions. In some cases, the drug user may mistakenly be diagnosed as having an acute psychiatric condition such as schizophrenia.
When a person has a substance abuse issue, they may reject the idea that they have a problem or that their use is not under control. They will make excuses, tell lies and become irrational about the severity of the problem. Getting a user to admit that they have a problem with drugs can be a difficult but life-changing step and can lead to getting help and becoming sober.
There are many different treatments available to help a person struggling with substance abuse. These include counseling, medical detoxification, skills training and spiritual guidance. Getting help early can stop the long-term problems of addiction from developing, shortening the road to recovery.
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