How to Know When You’re Living With a Drug Addict

Updated on July 26, 2020
Screen Shot 2018 09 25 at 12.55.52 PM

Addiction does not have a specific demographic or type. Anyone can become addicted to a substance or an action. Drug addiction is a real issue of concern. The rates of drug addiction are on the rise, with dependency involving legally acquired drugs as well.

Given the high rates of dependency, it is likely that you know somebody with a drug addiction. However, you may not know that they are suffering from addiction. Drug addiction is a condition that can be treated and managed. In order to get them the help they need, you must at least be able to identify that they are addicted to drugs.

Anyone can be dependent on drugs. It takes as little as one moment of exposure to drugs to develop an addiction. Addicted persons may not fully understand their disease, or want to overcome it. Quite often, their habits are shrouded in secrecy.

How can you tell when someone close to you is a drug addict? Here is a comprehensive list that will help you determine whether you are.

Presence of drugs or drug equipment

Addicts are driven by the urge to do drugs. Sometimes, this may mean keeping the paraphernalia or actual drugs in places where they regularly spend time. Should you find pipes, foils, needles, blades, rolling papers, balloons or large amounts of glue, as well as the actual drugs themselves, they might have a substance abuse problem.

Screen Shot 2018 09 25 at 12.56.32 PM

You could also be on the lookout for other bits of proof that may not necessarily be drugs or paraphernalia, but may also reveal substance abuse. Small Ziploc bags, wrappers, unusual residues and seeds are probably evidence of abuse activity.

New friendships and loss of old ones

Have they been making new suspicious friends? If someone close to you is a drug addict, they might be creating new friendships with other drug users or distributers. While you cannot tell whether they are addicted on the basis of their friendships, an influx of new and suspicious friends could corroborate additional points of suspicion.

Addicts may consider their older friends as being unsupportive. Since they no longer share interests, addicted persons might choose to terminate previously held relationships. A large number of broken down friendships could signify substance abuse.

Drastic mood changes

Addictive substances manipulate the chemical composition of the brain. The addicted person will be unable to control changes in their mood, and will experience drastic highs and lows. They are more prone to irritability and anxiety. They may change from joy to anger to depressed states quickly, without any significant trigger.

Mood changes are not a definitive point of proof for drug dependency. It is also common amongst people experiencing post addiction withdrawal symptom, such as that experienced during crack abuse treatment.

Unusual sleeping patterns

Substance dependency may affect the sleeping pattern of an addicted person. When one is under the influence, they may be unable to sleep for long periods of time. Drugs and substances distort the chemical combination in the brain, and may trigger hyperactivity. When they are not under the influence, they may tend to sleep for long amounts of time. This may be as a result of the fatigue experienced after the effects have worn off.

Screen Shot 2018 09 25 at 12.56.47 PM

Unusual changes in metabolism

Drugs and alcohol bring about significant and noticeable changes in metabolism. Dependents may lose or gain weight rapidly, depending on their preferred substance of choice. They might develop an eating disorder. Unexplained changes in rates of metabolism and the unusual eating trends might suggest that you are living with an addict.

Looking in their eyes

Eyes are windows to the soul. In cases where you may be living with a drug addict, the state of their eyes could help confirm your suspicions. Different substances have different effects on the eyes. However, there is a noticeable change in eye complexion for most drugs. Dilated pupils and bloodshot eyes are common hints of an underlying drug problem.

Lack of motivation at home, school or place of work

When they are on drugs, people may experience heightened energy levels through an increased production of dopamine and adrenaline. During the periods which they are off drugs, addicts may feel fatigued because of the body’s inability to produce such high levels of these chemicals naturally. The effect may be that they are not motivated to take part in activities which they normally might engage in.

Reduced concentration spans

Screen Shot 2018 09 25 at 1.00.12 PM

Drugs affect the brain’s functions. People with dependency are likely to be more forgetful and have reduced cognitive ability. They might also be less likely to express themselves in conversation, as well as struggle to follow conversation.

Financial problems

Regular and unexplained financial problems might be an indicator of dependency. Dependency causes rationalization of wasteful spending on drugs. Over time, addicted persons may also develop tolerance, which may cause them to need more of the drugs in order to get the desired effect. The result could be regular financial problems, with all the funds channelled towards drug related purchases.

Some drugs are not expensive. People might be dependent without needing to spend a fortune. Even though this condition is substantial proof of the likelihood of addiction, it is not a necessary one.

Increased impulsiveness

Screen Shot 2018 09 25 at 1.02.04 PM

Drug users are prone to making risky and impulsive decisions without considering the consequences. Drugs impair judgement by changing the chemical make-up of the brain. If you observe an increased tendency to engage in risky activity, the person may have a drug problem.

Final thoughts

This list is designed to help identify some common characteristics of drug abuse. None of the items on the list prove addiction. A person may show one or more behaviours on this list without necessarily engaging in drug abuse. It is important to engage in open communication in order to identify the problem and to seek appropriate solutions.

You can help the addicted person by talking to them about the dangers of drugs, as well as explaining the possible consequences.

Remember, even though they might be addicted, they are your friends and family too! For more information on helping a drug addict that you’re living with, please visit


Senior Outlook Today is your go-to source for information, inspiration, and connection as you navigate the later years of life. Our team of experts and writers is dedicated to providing relevant and engaging content for seniors, covering topics such as health and wellness, finances, technology and travel.