How to Identify Drug Addiction without Having Substance Abuse Counselor Education

It can be difficult to recognize the signs of drug abuse, especially since there are so many different kinds of drugs, each with its own range of possible effects. You do not need a formal education in substance abuse training to recognize some of the symptoms of drug use.  Here are a few of the most addictive and dangerous drugs, and their possible visible effects. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list and that users will not necessarily exhibit all or any of the following behaviors. However, it is likely that if they are abusing any of the drugs below, they will show at least some of the warning signs. It is important to note that there are symptoms of all forms of drug use, no matter the drug of choice. These include financial problems (due to spending money on drugs and a decreased ability or desire to earn money), social isolation, an increased need for privacy and irritability.


Heroin users will initially exhibit a euphoric rush, that can manifest as extreme happiness, seemingly for no reason or out of nowhere. This quickly deteriorates into extreme lethargy, sleeping much longer than usual or at unusual times, clouded thinking flushed skin, itchiness, nausea, and vomiting. Intravenous users may have track marks on the skin, usually on the arms, but at other points as well, such as the inner thigh or between the toes. Fever from shooting up heroin Withdrawal symptoms include depression, anxiety, restlessness, and body aches.


Cocaine users can display extreme confidence, to the point of feeling invincible, and therefore may display uncharacteristically dangerous or risky behaviors atypical to their personality. They may become overly talkative, and have dilated pupils. Cocaine keeps users awake, so they may go without sleep for long periods, followed by a crash of sleeping for an unusually long period or at odd times. Users may exhibit overall weight loss, but with bloating in the body and/or face. If someone has just used cocaine, they may have white powder around their nose or mouth or track marks on the arms from intravenous use. Cocaine users may exhibit decreased attention to hygiene and self-care. Withdrawal symptoms include excess sleep, depression, anxiety, and body pain.


Methamphetamine abuse has arguably the most obvious physical signs of any addictive drug. Meth abusers often display dramatic weight loss, sores on the face or body from excessive picking, rotting teeth, and high body temperature. Symptoms also include increased libido, itchiness of the skin, and in some cases, stroke. Some users may also experience hallucinations and paranoia. Meth keeps users from sleeping, sometimes for periods as long as days or even weeks.