How to spot drug abuse in a loved one

6:03 AM, Nov 17, 2017
9:57 AM, Dec 12, 2018

Amid the opioid epidemic, spotting drug abuse in a loved one has become a necessary survival skill.  With the unpredictable and highly potent substances available on the street, catching drug abuse quickly can be the difference between life and death.

Whether you are a parent, spouse or friend, believe your instincts.  If you have that feeling that something is not right, start asking questions.  It’s better to trust yourself and speak up than regret having been silent later.  We all want to think the best of those we love, but don’t let that stop you from intervening when your gut says you should.

There are definite signs that should concern you. 




Some of them are the following:

  • Your loved one has begun to neglect responsibilities they previously always fulfilled.
  • Any uptick in the number of encounters with the law, such as traffic tickets, being pulled over, etc.
  • Relationships issues, such as fights with your partner or family members, an unhappy boss, or the loss of friends.
  • Physical changes such as:
  • An inability to sleep, awake at unusual times, unusual laziness.
  • A loss of or increase in appetite, changes in eating habits.
  • Cold, sweaty palms; shaking hands.
  • Red, watery eyes; pupils larger or smaller than usual.
  • Unusual smells on breath, body or clothes.
  • Extreme hyperactivity or excessive talkativeness.
  • Being secretive or evasive.  Addicts will go to great lengths to hide their addiction.  This can include avoiding clear answers to your questions, keeping secrets or acting in an unusual manner.
  • Lying.  Individuals struggling with addiction will flat out lie to you to protect against admitting their addiction.
  • Noticeable fluctuations in mood can be the result of a psychiatric disorder and/or the result of using illicit substances or alcohol.  These substances trigger different emotions and the frequency, amount and substance used can trigger major mood swings.
  • Attitude and appearance changes.  When an individual is struggling with addiction they often change their way of living, including how they dress, carry themselves and treat others.
  • Loss of interest in things they used to enjoy.  Alcohol and drug addiction consumes a large part of an individual’s life, which in turn gives them little time to continue activities they used to enjoy.
  • Loss of memory.  If you and your loved ones are reminiscing about good times and one person doesn’t participate in the conversation, it may be due to a loss of memory and alcohol and drugs could be the cause.
  • Stealing.  If you start to notice things of value or money disappearing around the house one explanation is that an individual in your family may be struggling with addiction.

Noticing these signs, and following your instinct to insistently question why they are there, may save the life of someone dear to you.

If you or a loved one is in need of help, please call Decision Point at 844-801-5310 or visit for more information. 

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