It is no secret to anyone that substance abuse is a major problem for many people today. When you are worried about your loved one’s substance abuse, it can be difficult to know just how serious their problem is. While symptoms and treatments of their substance abuse may vary between individuals, what remains similar are the signs that a loved one may be struggling with addiction. Addiction may be scary, but it is treatable. Keep reading to learn more about the physical and behavioral changes to keep an eye out for, as well as symptoms for different substance abuse disorders.


Physical Signs

As we all know, drug and alcohol addiction can have severe effects on an individual’s physical health. An individual who is active in their addiction may show any of the following physical signs: 

  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Blood in Vomit
  • Flushed Skin
  • Husky Voice
  • Broken Capillaries on their Face
  • Chronic Gastrointestinal Distress
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Dramatic Weight Loss or Gain
  • Marks Left by Injection Drug Use (referred to as “track marks”)
  • Trembling Hands


Behavioral Changes

Substance abuse not only has physical impacts on a person’s life, but it also affects their behavior. The following behavioral changes may occur:

  • Depression or mood swings
  • Blackouts and/or memory loss
  • Using drugs/alcohol to relax, improve mood, or aid in sleep
  • Neglecting family, friends, and activities that they once enjoyed
  • Telling lies
  • Engaging in risky out-of-the-norm behaviors
  • Neglecting their grooming, hygiene, and clothing
  • Borrowing or stealing money

a person going through the 5 stages of addiction

How to Identify Different Signs of Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can impact an individual’s brain functioning and behavior in fundamental ways. Signs and symptoms can vary depending on the substance. Here are some common signs to look for:


When someone abuses alcohol, they may exhibit some or all of these symptoms: 

  • Secretive behavior
  • Chronic and unexplained tardiness
  • Losing interest in their regular activities
  • Stealing money
  • Slurred speech
  • Being under the influence at inappropriate times
  • Coordination problems
  • Smelling like alcohol



If you know someone who is abusing opioids, including heroin, fentanyl, or prescription painkillers, they may show one or multiple of these symptoms: 

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Poor Coordination
  • Slowed breathing rate



An individual who abuses stimulants, such as Adderall, cocaine, ecstasy, meth, or Ritalin, might experience the following: 

  • Irritability
  • High blood pressure
  • High body temperature
  • Diminished appetite
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Increased anxiety
  • Irregular heartbeat


Anti-Anxiety Medications/Sedatives

If you know someone who is abusing prescription anti-anxiety medications or sedatives, including benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, etc.) might experience the following symptoms: 

  • Slowed breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Unsteady walking
  • Memory lapses


How to Help Someone with a Substance Abuse Disorder 

If you notice any of these signs in your loved one, they may be suffering from addiction but there is something you can do to help. Don’t hesitate to call our trained addiction specialists to find out more about conducting an intervention and getting your loved one into the proper treatment program. If you believe your loved one is suffering from drug or alcohol abuse, our team of professionals at Palmetto Addiction Recovery Center is here to help! Our team will work with you to develop a recovery plan that works best for them. Call or visit Palmetto Addiction Recovery Center today!