Drug abuse can be devastating to the sufferer and their loved ones. It can occur for a number of reasons including poverty, stress, and problems with physical and mental health.
Drug addiction can happen to anybody, and can soon spiral out of control if left untreated, leading to poor health and, in many cases, death. People who are caught up in drug abuse will often also be recruited into drug dealing and trafficking. In fact, the number of people seeking legal advice when caught drug trafficking has risen significantly in the UK in recent years.
Stopping drug abuse in its tracks is paramount, which is why knowing the signs is so important. Keep reading for the signs to look out for of drug abuse in adults…
What Kinds of Drugs do People Abuse?
When we think about drug abuse, our minds tend to turn to Class A drugs, such as heroin and cocaine. However, addiction and abuse also include other drugs, including marijuana, ecstasy (MDMA), methamphetamine, and even over the counter painkillers.
Why Do People Take Drugs?
Drug use occurs for a number of reasons. A lot of users take drugs because of the ‘high’ that these substances provide, while others use drugs as an escape from their problems and everyday lives.
In the case of painkillers, an addict will often begin taking these for a legitimate reason, such as pain or illness. They will then discover that they have become addicted later on.
What Are the Warning Signs of Drug Abuse?
While some signs of drug abuse are quite obvious, others are more subtle and, in this section, we’ll look at the eight warning signs of drug abuse in adults:
1. Physical Changes
When somebody is in the grip of drug addiction, they will often display changes in their appearance, which may include:
- Redness around the eyes
- Weight loss
- Dark shadows under the eyes
- A failure to maintain personal hygiene and grooming
- A grey or dull complexion
- Slurred or slow speech
- Not making sense
- Wearing long sleeves, even in hot weather, to hide needle marks
2. Energy Levels
Drug addicts will often appear to be tired and lethargic and may be reluctant to make plans, such as socialising.
Drug addicts will usually go to great lengths to hide their habits from their loved ones. Signs of this may include locking doors when they’re inside a room and leaving the room to hold telephone conversations.
4. Money Problems
When somebody becomes addicted to a drug, they will spend a lot of money on feeding their habit. You may notice that your loved one always seems to be broke or has started to ask for loans; sometimes from multiple people.
5. Unusual Behaviour
With drugs such as cannabis, regular use of the drug can bring with it a sense of anxiety and paranoia. If somebody seems to be suffering from heightened anxiety or is complaining of a threat that may or may not exist, this may be a red flag.
People who use some drugs, such as K2 or ‘Spice’, may display increasingly aggressive or violent behaviour, particularly during times when they are unable to access their drugs.
7. Lack of Inhibition
When somebody is under the influence of drugs, they may behave in a more flamboyant and less inhibited way than normal. They may also take what may seem like unnecessary risks which hadn’t previously been in character for them.
Drug abuse is often accompanied by unpleasant or unusual aromas. With a cannabis user, you may notice that the smell lingers on their clothes and possessions. Drug abusers will often also suffer from bad breath.
What Are the Signs that Somebody is Involved in Drug-Related Criminality?
Habitual drug users can often become involved in dealing drugs or in trafficking, which can result in significant custodial sentences. The following are some of the signs that somebody may be involved in drug-related criminality:
- Finances: the person may suddenly have lots of cash with no clear source for this income.
- Unusual activity: the person may begin to leave the house at unusual times of day and night, and often for short periods of time.
- Telephone calls: the person may seem to receive a lot of telephone calls.
- Furtive behaviour: the person may become extremely secretive.
While somebody displaying these behaviours may not necessarily be involved in criminality, they can be a good indication that something isn’t right.
Know Who to Reach Out to For Support…
Drug abuse and addiction can be incredibly destructive, not just for the abuser but also for everybody around them.
Once in the grip of addiction, it can be extremely difficult for the drug user to break the cycle of drug-taking and withdrawal. For this reason, if you suspect that somebody has a problem with drug abuse, the first step is to urge them to seek medical help.
As well as services available from a GP, there are a number of UK charities such as Mind and Action On Addiction that can help drug users to get the help that they need in a non-judgemental environment. In some cases, a drug user will receive counselling and medication, in more severe cases a stay in a residential facility may be necessary.