How do I know if I have a problem with drugs?

Nzinga Harrison, MD
June 24, 2020

Even though drug addiction is a prevalent health condition throughout the world, people with drug addiction often face stigma, which includes shame, social disapproval, and discrimination. Instead of considering addiction as a chronic illness, other people might blame a person’s actions and look down on them. These types of negative consequences prevent people from speaking openly about their drug use, causing them to hide their struggles because they don’t want to be judged.

It’s not always easy to know if someone is struggling with drug use, much less yourself. Understanding more about drug use and learning to recognize the signs of addiction can help you figure out what type of support or treatment is needed. Here are some ways to recognize a problem with drugs.

Signs of a Drug Problem

  • Strong urges and cravings to use drugs daily or several times throughout the day

  • Always having or buying drugs

  • Needing more of the same drug to have the same effect

  • Acting in a risky way to get drugs, such as stealing or lying

  • Engaging in dangerous behavior while on drugs, like driving or having unsafe sex

  • Taking drugs even though it causes issues with loved ones or work

  • Taking drugs in larger amounts or over a longer time than intended

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after the effects of the drugs wear off

Changing Behavior

Drugs can also change personalities and behaviors, or make people act in different ways than normal, including:

  • Wanting to spend more time alone or doing things in private

  • Losing contact with old friends

  • Not having an interest in favorite activities

  • Forgetting to do routine things or being unable to keep a schedule

  • Feeling more irritable or annoyed with other people

Changing Physical and Mental Health

Drug addiction is related to a variety of different health issues, including:

  • Bloodshot or glazed eyes

  • Frequent or unexplained injuries

  • Sudden weight changes

  • Poor hygiene or bad skin, hair, teeth, and nails

  • Memory loss or problems with recalling information

  • Speech changes like slurred words, rambling, or fast-talking

Drug addiction is also associated with the development of mental health conditions, or the worsening of existing conditions, including:

  • Sudden mood swings

  • Aggressive or violent behavior

  • Irritable mood

  • Depression

  • Apathy, or lack of motivation or care

  • Suicidal thoughts or self-harm

It can be challenging to recognize your struggles with drugs, but seeing the early signs is the first step towards recovery. No matter what your challenges are with drugs, addiction treatment can help you rebuild the confidence to regain control now and throughout your long-term recovery journey.

Are you worried you or a loved one may need help with an addiction to drugs? Find out more by taking this quiz about drug use.

If you need help with your substance use disorder, we are here to help you build your confidence and momentum towards the future you want. We provide treatment services for adults with alcohol, opioid, and other substance use disorders. We are currently located in Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.

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Nzinga Harrison, MD

Dr. Harrison serves as the Chief Medical Officer for Eleanor Health with more than 15 years experience practicing medicine. She is a double-board certified physician with specialties in general adult psychiatry and addiction medicine. Dr. Harrison has spent her career as a physician treating individuals from marginalized communities with substance use and other psychiatric disorders. As a physician executive, she has served as Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer roles committed to creating and improving systems-based delivery of psychiatric and substance abuse care. She is a vocal advocate for stigma reduction, and is passionate about the necessity for whole-person care as individuals and communities seek to recover from and prevent substance use disorders.

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