Addiction affects the lives of millions of people all over the globe.  While the reasons why people begin using a particular substance or behavior to cope with their lives are different based on gender and some of the types of physiological and psychological effects are also different, addiction can strike anyone regardless of gender, age, social standing, education, race, religion, cultural background or financial prosperity. Addiction truly is a disease that knows no limits when it comes to choosing its victims. Complicating the treatment of addiction is the fact that many sufferers also have other mental illness and physical illnesses that can complicate the diagnosis and treatment of their addictions. With all of the grave consequences that drug abuse and addiction have on the addict as well as the lives of the family members and friends it becomes very important for people to learn about and be able to recognize the signs of drug abuse. The signs of drug abuse vary widely and can be very insignificant to obvious in nature. One of the main problems in identifying drug abuse and other addictions is that the addicts often become quite adept at hiding their addiction and also at manipulating those who around them in order to be able to continue to obtain and use the substance.

Each drug has its own specific characteristics that can be signs of use, but there are also some general signs of drug use that are correct for almost any type of drug and include:

Sudden change in behavior, sudden change in the persons the individual is hanging out with, or the activities that interest them, change in performance at work and/or school, mood swings, going from happy and carefree to extremely irritable or even violent the next, withdrawal from family members, careless about personal grooming or housekeeping habits, loss of interest in hobbies, sports, and other favorite activities that the individual has typically enjoyed, changes in normal sleeping pattern, red or glassy eyes, stuff or runny nose, uneven pupils, odd smells on the person’s clothing or in their car or room, sudden secretive behavior, lying, paranoia and accusing others of watching him or being out to get them, a sudden suspicion or disregard for normal laws and customs as well as new found sense of disrespect for law enforcement or drug control efforts, an embrace of “counterculture” attitudes or symbols that depict the use of drugs in a positive light, “blackouts,” sudden forgetfulness and the inability to recall recent events, suddenly becoming undependable and unreliable, sudden and unexplained absences from work or school, failure to complete tasks or assignments, incoherent speech or rambling thoughts, random outbursts of rapid, perhaps random and uncontrolled thoughts or speech and many more other signs can all be symptoms of drug abuse, but they can also be explained by other events and phenomena. If someone truly suspects that a friend, family member or co-worker has a substance abuse problem, the important thing to do is to talk with that person in a non-confrontational manner and urge them to receive help and treatment for addiction.

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