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Signs of Drug Abuse


By Stephanie Loebs

For a parent, child, employer or friend, the knowledge that a loved one may be abusing drugs is most assuredly difficult to accept.

One can ponder the whys and hows of a close friend or family member becoming dependent on drugs and/or alcohol for a long time, and oftentimes people blame themselves for enabling others into what may seem an irreversible situation.

However, instead of placing blame or worrying about what to do, a loved one should take immediate action when drug abuse is suspected.

Consulting a physician or healthcare professional with experience in drug rehabilitation is a necessary step.


Of course, one must be certain if drug abuse is actually happening. While some addicts may work to hide their behaviors, there are signs to watch for if you suspect a child, parent, co-worker or friend is abusing narcotics or alcohol.

Some of the more obvious signals include but are not limited to:

  • Sudden mood changes, depression and listlessness, paranoia and withdrawal from friends and activities

  • Problems with concentration, short-term memory loss, twitching and jittery behavior

  • Change in appearance for the worse, disheveled clothes and hair, the distinct odor of marijuana is also an obvious sign

  • Redness or constant watering of the eyes, prolonged dilation of the pupils, constant sniffling

  • Possible sexual performance problems

  • Loss of appetite, rapid and unexplained weight loss, increased thirst and craving for sugary drinks

  • Unexplained financial problems, things missing around the house, having to always borrow money, unable to find work

While such symptoms are indicative of other illnesses unrelated to drug abuse, these remain fair warnings and should not be so easily dismissed.

Watch your loved one's behavior carefully, ask questions and offer support. Most importantly, don't wait to take action if you are certain something is wrong. The longer you wait could increase the risk of health problems.


Stephanie Loebs is the executive director of Williamsburg Place, one of the top drug rehab clinics in the nation. Williamsburg Place aids those who suffer from drug and/or alcohol addiction, and specializes in caring for health care professionals.

For over twenty years Williamsburg Place and its joint rehabilitation center, the William J. Farley Center, have helped thousands of people from all walks of life take back their lives and overcome substance abuse.

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