Drug abuse and addiction is a vast, nebulous, and destructive condition that can leave someone’s life in ruins. Each addiction is unique in many ways, and for that matter, each person has a unique experience of addiction. However, there are a variety of trends and behaviors that can help clue you in that an individual is developing a substance abuse habit.

Top 5 Signs of Drug Abuse

While the effect of each drug is different, you can still identify the signs of drug abuse and addiction.


Withdrawals look very different from one drug to another. In some cases, a person may seem to grow irritable and uncomfortable in their skin. Scratching and picking at themselves is common in cases of withdrawals from drugs such as meth, while alcohol withdrawals have distinct symptoms that may include hallucinations and seizures. In general, the symptoms of withdrawal are generally very noticeable and correspond to the person being unable to use their drug.

Close Social Ties with Enablers

If someone you know is growing closer to someone you know to abuse drugs, that can be a worrying sign. Now, this doesn’t mean that the correct response to a friend abusing drugs is to cut them off. Addicts need support and companionship as much as anyone else, but this is not the same as seeking out and deepening social ties with people that encourage or push drug abuse on others. This sort of person may seek to involve others in their behavior to feel better about themselves, and will often strive to stop their friends from getting clean. Social ties are one of the key risk factors for becoming addicted, but can also be a pathway out of addiction when bad ties are replaced with positive ones.

Impulsive Behaviors

In general, drug addiction causes people to partake in more impulsive behaviors and weakens their long-term thinking faculties. Sometimes, this is a matter of the way that addiction distorts the brain and makes the drug seem like the most important thing in the world. However, some drugs, particularly stimulants can shrink the brain and impair thinking for weeks or even months after the end of prolonged use.

Financial Problems

If someone is suffering from inexplicable financial problems, drug addiction may be at the root of it. When you’re addicted, long-term concerns and financial security seem to fade away compared to the importance of finding and consuming the drug. Even if someone is otherwise keeping up appearances, going to work, and being productive, drug abuse and addiction may be eating away at them invisibly.

Isolating Behaviors

No one wants to be an addict, and developing an addiction has an array of negative social consequences. For one, someone with substance use disorder may cancel plans or avoid making them in the name of using a drug. They might also feel ashamed or disgusted with themselves, and seek out social isolation as a form of self-harm.

Watch for the Signs

There are a thousand faces of drug abuse; statistically speaking, someone you love has probably abused drugs at some point in their life. Drug abuse can occur under the radar and leave the person’s loved ones to find out from an overdose. If you fear that someone you love is engaging in drug abuse, call Live Free SSL to learn more about spotting the signs and to find how we can help.