Determining If Your Adult Loved One Has A Drug Problem

If someone you love has an addiction to drugs, you are undoubtedly wondering how best to help them. For some people, they must hit rock bottom, and then the question becomes how to let an addict hit rock bottom.

However, with early intervention, there may be no reason to watch your love one hit rock bottom. Early intervention is the key to success.


Drug addiction is becoming common, especially with opioids. Evidence of this is with the recent CARA Bill and opiod addiction legislature at the federal level.1

Tips To Identify And Help A Loved One With Drug Addiction

The following is some useful information for identifying a loved one with a drug abuse problem.


Early Intervention Is The Key

The first problem with getting a person help is to identify that they have a problem with drugs to start with. This is not always easy.

For many people, when they realized that their loved one has a problem, enough time has gone by that the addiction has become severe. In fact, this is likely how you found out about the problem.


It had become so bad that it was obvious to everyone, but if you can discover the problem early enough, the treatment will have a greater chance of success.

Those in the early stages of addiction often can be treated as outpatients, and withdrawal from drugs is not as psychologically devastating as those who have been addicted for a long time.


Physical Signs Of Drug Abuse

Of course, the specific signs of drug addiction often are related to the specific drug a person is addicted to, but there are general signs to look for.

The eyes can look bloodshot when marijuana is used, but for many other drugs, dilated pupils are a classic sign. A persistent runny nose or a hacking cough can mean a drug problem as well.


As a drug problem becomes worse, it will have a detrimental effect on an individual’s health. You will notice an overall drop in a person’s hygiene.

Maybe they do not brush their teeth as often or comb their hair. Their finger nails are not maintained, and they no longer shave as often or not at all. Their clothing is not always clean or ironed. You may notice jewelry is no longer worn.


In general, their appearance is not much of a concern to them as it was in the past.

Behavioral Signs Of Drug Abuse

This is a tricky area, because almost every behavior that can be due to drug abuse can also be attributed to something else. In general, you are looking for a change in behavior, and this is almost always a change for the worst.


For example, if you have noticed that a person has been lying a lot, this could be because of drug use. They may tell lies about where they have been and what they have been doing.

Irritability or mood swings are a classic sign of drug abuse. Much like the physical signs of drug addiction, the behavioral signs are often related to the specific drug that is being used.

Paranoia, for examples, if often related to the abuse of methamphetamine, while those addicted to opioids may be extremely lethargic.

Changes In A Person’s Life

A person on drugs is not making any progress in life. In fact, they are not even treading water. You will notice a decline in their life. Their income will drop as they lose a job or simply cannot hold a job down.

They will begin to brush up against the law, perhaps even being arrested for the first time in their life. New friends may suddenly appear in their life, and they will often be people that are much different from those they associated with in the past.

They may begin staying out late at night or stay up late at night when they seldom did this in the past. People seldom undergo life changes suddenly without a catalyst, and often it is drug addiction that is to blame.

The First Step Is Discussion

You need to talk to others who know your loved one to get another person’s perspective. It is possible that you are wrong in how you are interpreting your observations, but then again, others may already know something that you are slow to pick up on.

If one or more people close to the situation are having the same thoughts as you, then you need to confront your loved one about the problem.

Keep in mind that you need to do this when your loved one is sober. Never attempt to discuss anything while he or she is under the influence of a drug. There is no point in doing this, because they cannot think clearly.

Of course, you can not get help for someone that does not want it, but assuming they are ready for help, you can look for a nearby facility that specializes in the treatment of the drug that your loved one is addicted to.