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Signs and Symptoms of Commonly Abused Drugs

When you suspect that you or a loved one is struggling with a substance abuse problem, it’s important to know some of the signs and symptoms of addiction to that drug. You can find a brief overview of the major drugs of abuse below. For a full list of substances.


Alcohol is one of the most widely abused legal substances in the United States.

Symptoms of alcohol abuse include:Woman with Alcohol

  • Frequent hangovers.
  • Absences from work, school, and other obligations.
  • Irresponsible drinking, such as drinking before driving.
  • Excessive binge drinking (drinking more than one eight-ounce beer or a five-ounce glass of wine in one hour.)

People who abuse alcohol will frequently have the scent of it on their clothes or breath. To know more about the short and long-term effects of alcohol use, the major signs of alcohol abuse and the best treatment options to help someone with an alcohol problem, call us at .

Credit: Business Insider


Marijuana is considered one of the more benign illegal drugs, but it is still prone to dangerous outcomes and abuse. It is also one of the most popular drugs among many demographics.

Some signs of marijuana abuse include:

  • Vacant demeanor / disorientation.
  • Reddened sclera or ‘bloodshot eyes.

In addition, results of marijuana use include short-term memory and decrease overall motivation. People who use marijuana often try to hide the smell in their rooms by covering it up with incense. Small burns on the ends of the thumb and forefinger can be a sign of frequently smoking a marijuana joint to the very end.

It’s never to late to help a loved one so contact us at  now.

Credit: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA/NIH)


Heroin is one of the most addictive and dangerous drugs a person can abuse. It is a powerful narcotic that many find addictive upon the first use.

Most often, heroin is administered through injection into a vein. If you see needle marks on someone’s arms, it is a sign of possible heroin abuse. The needles can be inserted anywhere that a vein is located, but the arms are the most common location.

Physical and mental effects of heroin abuse include:

  • Surge or rush of euphoria.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Nausea/vomiting.
  • Warm, flushed (and often itchy) skin.
  • Constricted pupils.
  • Respiratory depression.

In the long run, heroin use can cause side effects such as weight loss and collapsed veins, as well as skin abscesses or inflamed tissue around the needle sites. If you are ready to free yourself and your loved ones from this addiction, call us and learn more about how to help someone with heroin addiction.

Credit: New York Times


Methamphetamine, commonly shortened to “meth,” acts as a powerful stimulant.

Students or those needing to stay awake long hours for work may use them to get a rush of energy. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that 2.4 percent of 12th-grade students had used meth at least once.

Signs of meth abuse may include the following:

  • Paranoid or twitchy demeanor.
  • Aggressive outbursts.
  • Inability to sit still.
  • Sudden weight loss.

Lasting health effects of meth may include:

  • Violence.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Psychosis.
  • Feelings of bugs on or under the skin.
  • Anorexia.
  • Dental problems.

There are a variety of treatment options available in helping someone addicted to crystal meth. Speak with someone now at .

Credit: A&E

Prescription Drugs

The main classes of abused prescription drugs include:

  • Stimulants.
  • Painkillers.
  • Anti-anxiety medications.
  • Sleep medications.

Prescription drugs are often overlooked as substances of abuse because of their legitimate medical purpose. However, the potential effects of substance abuse can be extremely serious. Anti-anxiety medication (such as benzodiazepines) and opiate painkillers (such as hydrocodone and oxycodone) are the most commonly misused types of prescription drugs.

Find out if you have a problem with prescription drug abuse here.

Credit: Today Show

Treatment for Substance Abuse and Addiction

Comforting a friend

Treatment for drug abuse has to be done in a structured environment that minimizes the person’s exposure to the drug and gets to the root cause of the abuse. Treatment can be conducted in either an inpatient or outpatient setting.

For more serious addictions, or for those with complicated issues—such as poly-substance use, or co-existing behavioral, mental or physical health conditions—it is often better to seek inpatient care.

Outpatient care works for those who need a more flexible schedule or cannot afford to take time out from work.

Usually, outpatient counseling sessions will take place weekly or biweekly – but can occur more frequently, if needed. Counseling helps to alleviate stress in an outpatient environment. Family counseling or relationship counseling is also available should it be necessary.


A pre-requisite part of any drug abuse treatment program is initial detoxification.

Detox comprises the period where any remaining drug, as well as its physical influences, are cleared from the body.

During supervised medical detox, the patient’s withdrawal symptoms are monitored to ensure the patient’s safety during the process. Medications may be used during the detox process to minimize discomfort and to preclude any dangerous withdrawal effects.

Detox doesn’t equal rehabilitation, but it is typically the first step—not the only step—in successful addiction treatment.

Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other types of psychotherapy are used to help patients understand the reasons behind their addictions so that they can effectively manage the problems that led to the abuse without turning back to the drug.

The psychotherapy portion of treatment often carries over to the outpatient phase following release from a residential rehab facility.

Aftercare / Relapse Prevention

The process of recovering from a drug addiction continues long after a stay in a recovery or rehabilitation center. As part of the aftercare process, ongoing individual and group counseling sessions, as well as regular support group attendance are frequent components. Additionally, some people elect to reside in sober living environments once the period of initial residential treatment has concluded.

Patients are also encouraged to develop constructive pastimes or help in the community. This provides a purpose and reduces the incentive to return to the use of drugs. visit our Signs and Symptoms of Drug Abuse Overview page.

Call us at to learn more about residential and outpatient treatment programs near you.


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