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Identifying Drug Abuse

by Landmark Recovery

April 10, 2019
Identifying Drug Abuse

According to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 10 percent of people aged 12 and older suffer from illicit drug abuse monthly. Despite how many people may use drugs, it may not be completely noticeable. Looking for patterns in a person’s behavior and mannerisms can help to determine if someone you know, whether it be a child, spouse, or friend, is abusing drugs.

It is important to look for these signs so that you can help someone you know who may be struggling with addiction. This is especially true for adolescents and teenagers. Because the bodies and brains of teens are not fully done developing, the influence of drugs on the body can inhibit some of that development.

After learning more about substance abuse and identifying a loved one who may be struggling with some type of substance abuse, it is best to try and help them find a treatment center that can help them get and stay sober.


Looking For Drug Abuse

It can sometimes be hard to determine if someone that you’re close with has a drug problem, but there are a number of questions that you can ask him or her or determine on your own. These questions include:

  1. Does the person take the drug in larger amounts or longer than intended?
  2. Do they want to or try to stop using but can’t?
  3. Do they spend a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from the drug?
  4. Do they have cravings to use the drug?
  5. Are they unable to manage responsibilities in their professional or social life?

There is a full list of questions that you should ask in regards to substance abuse that can be found on the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s website.

There are a number of other signs that point to drug and alcohol abuse for some people. For example, if you notice that someone is losing interest in their favorite things, not taking care of themselves, choosing not to spend time with friends and family like they used to, and more. Similarly, this kind of abuse can also lead to emotional changes, for example, if you notice that someone is more sad, in a bad mood, or is struggling with depression, they may dealing with some type of abuse.

It is hard for people with a substance abuse problem to stop taking them on their own, and trying it can prove to be a health hazard due to the problems associated with withdrawals. However, through the help of treatment centers and other resources, drug and alcohol addiction is something that can be conquered.

“Through scientific research, we now know more than ever about how drugs work in the brain, and we also know that drug addiction can be successfully treated to help people stop abusing drugs and lead productive lives,” NIDA said.


Adolescent Drug Abuse

Identifying Drug Abuse

Adolescents and those in middle and high school are one of the most at-risk groups when it comes to substance abuse. More than that, they are also the group that can experience the most harmful effects as a result of substance abuse. Because the brain does not fully stop developing until around the age of 25, anything that inhibits the process, such as drug or alcohol abuse, can impact brain development.


Risk Factors

There are a number of risk factors when it comes to teenage drug abuse. These include family risk factors, individual risk factors, and more. Some of the family risk factors include poor supervision, poor communication, family tension and conflicts, broken homes, parental drug or alcohol abuse, and more. Meanwhile individual risk factors include a number of things like aggressive behavior, physical or sexual abuse, being male, being Caucasian, emotional or social difficulties, poor impulse control, unstable emotions, thrill-seeking behavior, and more.


Warning Signs

There are a number of early warning signs when it comes to teenage drug use. They generally come in the form of behavioral changes and changes in mannerism. One common first changes that you may see is a change in friends. Teens may have a gradual or sudden frequent change of friends. Other signs include withdrawal from family bonding and activities. A teen may choose to be left alone in their room and may become more uncommunicative with parents and siblings.

In addition to becoming more withdrawn, drug-seeking behavior becomes more apparent when a teen begins to violate curfew. While it can be confusing to spot drug-seeking behavior as many of these signs are common for a normal, non-drug-using teen, the picture can become less shrouded if you find your teen inventing stories and telling lies to cover his or her tracks.

Common drugs of abuse among the teenage population include marijuana and alcohol. These two drugs are associated with impaired judgement and can cause slurring of speech and other difficulties when it comes to verbal communication.

One big red flag is skipping classes and overall poor performance in school. Similarly, neglect of personal hygiene and paying little attention to grooming and cleanliness can be signs that may point toward drug use. Depression and mood instability are also possible warning signs of potential substance abuse.


Other signs of teenage substance abuse includes:

  • Apathy
  • Poor morale
  • Lack of motivation
  • Low productivity
  • Lack of self-control
  • Aggressive behavior


One of the biggest warning signs of drug or alcohol abuse is theft. If a teen starts pilfering money or stealing things, it may be because they are trying to find money to afford drugs.

Parents, teachers, and healthcare providers need to be familiar with signs and symptoms of substance abuse to spot them out. Because of the health risks surrounding adolescent substance abuse, it is important for adolescents to remain free from these substances until their body and brain has had more time to develop properly.


Now What?

After identifying drug abuse in a loved one, it is best to seek out the help of treatment center that can aid your child, spouse, or friend with their recovery. At Landmark Recovery, our state-of-the-art facilities are staffed with master’s-level physicians who can provide a high level of care and a positive environment for your loved one to kick their substance abuse problem. Landmark can provide a medically supervised detoxification program and access to individual and group therapy sessions to learn about the ins and outs of addiction and ways to stay sober following discharge.

If you want to learn more about the treatment plans that we offer, please visit our website and speak with our admissions team.

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.