Drug abuse is a serious epidemic. Drugs such as cocaine and prescription pills carry a huge risk of addiction. Drug addiction can affect — and ruin — a person’s entire life.

Identifying a drug addict isn’t easy. You may only see your best friend using drugs in social settings. Many drug addicts are also functioning, meaning they integrate their drug use while working a job or spending time with family.

If you suspect a loved one is a drug addict, they will show signs. They may not be obvious at first, but knowing the right signs will make their drug use more obvious.

If you want to identify drug addict behavior, look for these 9 dangerous signs.

Common Drugs

There are many drugs on the market. These drugs all have addictive qualities.

Unfortunately, drug addiction signs vary between the type of drug used. Here are the most common drugs abused and their addiction signs.


Stimulants, like cocaine, cause euphoric and high-energy effects. Because of the intense energy the user experiences, cocaine comes with its own set of behavioral signs.

The two more common cocaine side effects are insomnia (followed by sleeping long hours) and constant talking. When someone snorts cocaine, their brain is wired for hours.

These users are usually awake all night. But when they sleep, their sleep lasts hours. They also may wake up with a headache and other ill-feeling symptoms.

Cocaine also causes users to talk and ramble a lot, also called “jabber jaw.”

Since their brain is running a million miles a minute, many ideas pop into their head and they tend to express them all.

Barbiturates and Benzodiazepines

These pills are most commonly known as anti-depressants. Valium and Xanax are the most common prescription anti-depressants abused.

Some of the culprits are people prescribed these pills for depression and anxiety disorders. Others buy them off of the streets and use them for the lucid and euphoric effects.

Even though these pills treat depression, users develop a tolerance to these pills. This increases their depression.


Most people use opioids for medicinal uses. Prescription drugs such as Vicodin and Oxycontin are painkillers prescribed to post-op patients and any patients who experience severe pain. The street drug heroin is also an opiate.

Signs of opiate use include sedation, lethargy, and memory impairment.

Club Drugs

While these drugs have a minor addiction risk, they are still dangerous. Users take drugs like ecstasy when at a club or a concert.

The most common sign is dilated pupils. Sweating, drinking excess water, long showers, and slurred speech are also common behavioral signs.

Common Drug Addict Behavior: 10 Signs to Remember

Now that you know the most commonly abused drugs, you should know the general signs of drug abuse. While each addict is different, you’ll likely see them exhibit one or more of these signs. Here are the 10 signs of drug abuse.

1. Drug Cravings

All drug users develop a tolerance. To feel the effects, the users need to take higher doses of the drug.

Even though they try and hide their drug use, their behavior becomes suspicious. However, drug cravings aren’t as obvious as other symptoms.

Friends and other drug users notice cravings more than anyone.

For example, maybe you tried cocaine with a friend. You didn’t develop a habit but your friend keeps wanting cocaine, even outside of social and party settings. This is a major sign of a cocaine addict.

Other signs include filling prescriptions, stealing money, and becoming more withdrawn or inactive.

2. Physical Symptoms

When you do drugs, they take a toll on your appearance. Many users no longer feel the need to keep up with their appearance, even their hygiene. Others may try and cover up their physical symptoms, but daily use makes it difficult.

Here are the most obvious physical symptoms:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Minor sickness symptoms (a runny nose, etc.)
  • Weight loss
  • Bruising (especially on the arms and near veins for heroin use)
  • Bad hygiene habits (lack of bathing, stop wearing makeup or using hair products, wearing the same clothes, etc.)

They may try and conceal these symptoms. But as their addiction increases, they no longer care about their personal appearance.

3. Withdrawal Symptoms

To prevent rehab treatment or trying to recover naturally, many addicts will quit cold-turkey. This is dangerous; an addict’s body relies on the drug, and the body will react negatively when they stop taking it.

Withdrawal symptoms vary with each drug, but here are general symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Fatigue

Withdrawal symptoms can even become extremely severe and life-threatening. If your loved one experiences seizures and hallucinations due to withdrawal, they need to see a specialist immediately.

4. Poor Judgment

Was a loved one always a good kid, but suddenly went off the rockers and engaged in risky behavior? Poor judgment is a common sign of drug abuse.

Some behaviors include:

  • Constant partying
  • Promiscuity
  • Stealing
  • Lying
  • Criminal behavior, especially selling drugs or prostitution

Some of these behaviors are a result of constant partying. Partying opens up the doors for sexual activity and other bad behaviors. These addicts will often lie and attempt to cover their tracks.

But some of these behaviors are the result of addiction. Stealing money is the most common sign; they need to afford their addiction and will do anything to get their hands on spare cash.

To pay for their addiction, many addicts turn to criminal activities such as prostitution and even selling drugs.

5. Financial Trouble

Drug abuse is extremely expensive.

Drugs such as cocaine are pricey, but it depends on the quality. Cost per gram can vary between a few bucks for a gram and over $300 for a gram.

Since addicts try and go for the good stuff, they will shell out several hundred bucks — even thousands — to get their fix.

Street drugs aren’t the only expensive drugs. Prescription painkillers are also pricey, but it depends on your insurance. Prescribed painkillers are pretty affordable, especially if you have good insurance.

But doctors are cautious about over-prescribing. Therefore, they won’t prescribe the necessary amount an addict needs. The addict has no choice but to continue their addiction on the street.

Painkillers cost 13 times more when purchased on the street than at the pharmacy. These figures obviously prove drug addicts spend a pretty penny on their drugs.

If a loved one was in a good financial state at one point and is suddenly losing money, you could blame drugs.

6. Neglecting Responsibilities

An addict sees no worth in life outside of their addiction. They will stop showing up to work and will stop being there for their children.

But this sign isn’t common for all drug addicts. Many drug users are functioning addicts. They go to work and tend to their children while under the blanket of drug abuse. These addicts have special symptoms they can exhibit.

In addition to identifying their behavior, pay attention to their friends.

Your loved one may attend school regularly, but their new college friends are sketchy. Or maybe your baby’s mother or father is a good parent but is constantly leaving or sneaking around.

7. Develop Unhealthy Friendships

Let’s expand on a point made previously: Paying attention to the people they hang around. An addict usually develops a substance abuse problem because of new friends they make. Even a new lover can promote unhealthy drug habits.

Did a loved one start hanging around new friends you don’t like? Did they start dating someone new, and their behavior drastically changed? If you have a bad feeling about a new friend or partner, they could entice your loved one to engage in drug use.

What if you don’t know your loved one’s new friends? There are similar signs they can exhibit.

Maybe they stopped hanging around their old friends. Maybe their serious relationship ended abruptly. Or, maybe they’re not spending as much time with family as they once did.

8. They Isolate Themselves

At first, their drug use is social. But drug addiction can quickly turn lonely.

Drug addicts usually isolate themselves. This is because many people know their problems and don’t want to see the addict. They can also isolate themselves in an attempt to hide their addiction from loved ones.

Isolation also includes losing interest in hobbies or staying inside during special and social occasions.

9. Personality Changes

Personality change is one of the most powerful drug abuse symptoms. Drugs literally destroy your brain. They ruin energy, happiness, and motivation.

Someone who was previously happy and friendly can suddenly develop depression, mood swings, and isolation after taking drugs.

Someone who was previously ambitious and focused suddenly stops caring about work or their hobbies.

Personality changes are some of the easiest drug abuse symptoms to identify.

Help a Drug Addict Today

Spotting a drug addict isn’t always easy. Most drug addicts aren’t homeless and reckless individuals.

But anyone can spot drug addict behavior. Remember these drug abuse symptoms and help someone you love.

If you or a loved one needs rehab, take a look at our programs.