- Content Reviewed By:
- Andrew McKenna - JD
- Deputy Director of NCADD Westchester
There are multiple signs that can indicate your loved one needs drug rehab. These include physical, psychological, behavioral, and social. While each person’s symptoms may differ based on their health history, physical attributes, social life, career, emotional health, and other factors, several universal indicators indicate they may need help.
Understanding these signs and symptoms and examining them in the context of your loved one’s daily life can help you determine if action is needed to intervene and get them help for Substance Use Disorder. Learn some of the common physical, psychological, and behavioral signs of addiction so you can help if needed.
What Are the Physical Signs of Drug Abuse
Each person’s physical signs of drug abuse will vary slightly based on what kind of drugs they’re taking, how long, and how much.
Some of the most common physical indicators of drug abuse include:
- Sudden changes in weight (drugs like heroin will cause severe weight loss, while certain prescriptions will cause weight gain).
- Sunken eyes or bags underneath the eye sockets
- Skin discoloration and markings on the skin
- Acne and other dermatological issues
- Bad breath or body odor
- Bloodshot eyes
- Extreme fluctuation in appetite
- Physical withdrawal symptoms (constant headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, flu-like symptoms, insomnia, severe or moderate joint and muscle pain, etc.)
Physical signs are often the first indicator that your loved one needs drug rehab. They will get worse the longer drug abuse continues without treatment or intervention.
What Are the Psychological Signs of Drug Abuse?
As drug abuse progresses, your loved one will exhibit certain psychological symptoms that can indicate the need for help.
Psychological signs can include but are not limited to:
- Moderate to severe depression
- Social or general anxiety
- Paranoia and agitation
- Hallucinations and disorientation
- Extreme irritability and aggression
These signs can either be the result of one or a combination of drugs in the system. Different combinations of drugs can have especially adverse reactions, such as benzos and opioids. If your loved one is experiencing these or any other odd symptoms related to their drug use, they may need rehab.
What Are the Behavioral Signs of Drug Abuse?
Behavior can be the clearest indicator that your loved one needs drug rehab. When they start acting out of character, it may signal that they’re starting to be impacted by drug misuse.
Remember, drugs seriously affect the brain’s chemistry and central nervous system. From a behavioral standpoint, this can look like they have completely lost themselves and have become someone very different.
Some of the most common behavior that can indicate a drug problem include:
- Problems at work, school, or home
- Decline in hygiene and personal appearance
- Loss of interest in previous activities and hobbies
- Legal issues related to drug use
- Sudden and bizarre changes in sleep
- Constant preoccupation with drug use (this will be more evident for prescription users who are more open about their use)
- Lashing out and sudden, violent outbursts
- Dishonesty and deception regarding whereabouts, activities, and relationships
- Constantly borrowing or stealing money to buy drugs
- Associating with people just for the sake of getting high
It’s important to realize that some of this behavior may look normal or “less odd” depending on what else people have going on in their lives – just say diligent and aware. Also, be sure not to put yourself or any family member in harm’s way when these behaviors reach dangerous levels.
My Loved One Needs Drug Rehab…Now What?
While you can’t force your loved one to go to rehab, you have more power than you think to guide them toward help.
Depending on the nature of your relationships and their current state of mental health, you can:
- Organize an intervention with other loved ones
- Confront them privately
- Set personal boundaries in your relationship
- Tell their spouse, parent, child, or others close to them
However you confront your loved one about their drug use, be sure to do it respectfully and without judgment. Let them know you want to help them and are committed to helping them get well, but they have to put in the work of getting help. The unfortunate reality is that most people don’t get treatment on their own, so you can use this as an opportunity to help them get into a rehab center. With your help, your loved one may be able to reclaim their peace of mind and health from a Substance Use Disorder.