Looking for Substance Abuse Signs and Symptoms

Looking for Substance Abuse Signs and Symptoms

August 26th, 2016 in Substance Abuse

Watching Out for Symptoms of Substance Abuse

In looking for symptoms of substance abuse, there are different aspects to take into account. While some people may begin abusing substances in adolescent years, others may be prescribed opiates for chronic pain and end up abusing the prescription.

Substance abuse often leads into an addiction, which is recognized medically as a mental disorder. Substance abuse can cause a Substance Use Disorder and even an Alcohol Use Disorder.

These disorders are chronic illnesses, similarly to other illnesses such as, diabetes and cancer. It’s crucial that you understand the risk in recreational drug or alcohol use.

Using substances with any addictive tendencies, leaves a person vulnerable to undergo a complete brain chemical change, which results in addiction.

When addiction begins to take over, the neurological system is rewired and an individual will lose his or her ability to choose with to use substances or not.

This re-wiring process, plays a large role in a person’s lack of willpower, due to the brain communicating the need to use substances in order to remain alive and well.

This may sound a bit alarming: but the fact of the matter is that substance abuse can ultimately take over and becomes an addiction that heavily impacts your life or your loved one’s life.

It is also possible that substance abuse is taking place due to an already present addiction and Substance Use Disorder. Substance Abuse and Addiction is serious and should be addressed with urgency. There are many symptoms that one can recognize in him or herself or in a loved one.

It is important that you do your best to pay close attention to all aspects internally and externally. The symptoms of substance abuse are different for each person; this is because no two individuals are exactly the same.


What are the Symptoms of Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse will often go unnoticed for a length of time, usually until an individual is afflicted by addiction. In contrast, when referring to the abuse of substances an individual’s family and friends are often able to recognize any symptoms much before the individual impacted or anyone else.

Depending on what kind of substance(s) are being abused, the symptoms will vary. Symptoms of substance abuse range from different physical symptoms or signs to psychological and behavioral changes.

In short an overview of physical symptoms often includes changes in appearance such as, hygiene, drastic changes in weight, skin pigment, unusual marks on body, red eyes, and small dilated pupils, etc.

Psychological and behavioral issues are often times, extreme emotional instability, lack of coordination, inconsistency of sleeping schedule, lack of motivation, neglecting responsibilities, speech impairment, social changes, unreliable in commitments, and isolation.

Substance abuse is known to cause issues with a person’s memory and ability to process thoughts. Substance abuse harms an individual’s ability to make decisions, judgement, learn and regulate emotions.

The symptoms of substance abuse are quite extensive and these symptoms depend on an individual and the depth of his or addiction, as well as what substances are being abused. Wanting to have awareness of substance abuse symptoms requires vigilance and mindfulness.

Why Do Individuals Use Substances and What is the Danger?

Many individuals who abuse substances do so for a number of reasons. Individuals may have a problem with substance abuse for the ability to feel good. Many addictive drugs are known to produce feelings of pleasure or euphoria.

Different substances produce different types of feelings, substances abused will often depend on what kind of feeling someone is seeking. Another reason an individual might abuse substances is for purpose of feeling well and able.

For example, many people with other mental health related disorders such as, anxiety, depression, mood and stress disorders can find relief from substances. This type of substance abuse is known as self-medicating.

Feeling pressured about performance in athletics, extracurricular activities and education can often lead people to using substances to improve and enhance their capabilities.

Using substances for this reason is often connected to abuse of substances such as, steroids or prescription stimulants. A large contributor to substance abuse stems from adolescents and peer pressure.

Youth are a lot most vulnerable to engaging in behaviors as a means to fit in. This is especially dangerous, because being in such a vulnerable state will often lead someone to developing and addiction to substances.

Addiction results in a lot of tragedy on a daily basis. Initially when an individual decides to use substances of any kind, it is often voluntary.

However, if one continues to use substances, that individual’s ability to have self-control and manage his or her substance use can become hindered. If it becomes hindered this is a serious symptom that signals that there is an addiction.


What Should I Watch For?

Keeping an eye out for symptoms within your life or in the life of someone who is close to you will give you a foot in the door for early recognition to address the issue.

For more specific symptoms to identify, here is a list of what to look for: starting to give up hobbies and activities including, homework, studying, sports or making new friends; using substances on a daily or regular basis; loss of ability to concentrate or care about school and grades; dishonest behavior, especially about substance use or about how much is being used; unusual use of incense or room deodorizers; and appearing hungover often.

Additional behaviors that should be watched for if a concern of substance abuse is present are: short tempered, irritable or aggressive; depressed mood, often feeling hopeless and even suicidal; selfish and self-centered attitude; forgetfulness; valuables or money have started to disappear; isolating from friend and family; encounters with the law; loss of job; suspension from school; and finding of any paraphernalia, like, rolling paper, small box containers or random baggies.

If you are looking for behaviors and signs within yourself to make sure you are not having an issue with substance abuse, there are a few questions you may want to ask yourself, such as:

    • Am I having to consume more substances to get the same effect?
    • Do I have frequent blackouts- where I forget what happened?
    • Am I constantly talking about using substances?
    • Do I need to use substances to have a good time?
    • Do I find myself planning substance use around responsibilities, such as, work or school?

If you were able to identify with any of the above questions, you might want to consider looking into seeking support to end the substance abuse before it progresses into a more difficult and worse condition.

Being able to recognize substance abuse, can save someone from the painful impact substances often has on one’s life. Stop substance abuse before it turns into an addiction and becomes more challenging to treat.

Causes of Substance Abuse

The abuse of substances including, alcohol, prescription and illicit drugs can begin in an individual his or her youth years. There are certain risk factors that increase an individual’s likeliness of substance abuse.

The main factors of influence often come from the family environment. A family household has a strong influence on a person’s development through youth, which is connected to an increase of risk in substance abuse.

Some of the family factors are: chaos in the home atmosphere, biological genetics (substance abuse may run in the family), emotional instability, and the lack of nurturing or caring parental roles.

Similarly, for factors that are not included in the home environment may include: outside social issues, reactive and unstable in a learning environment, having poor coping skills socially, low school performance, and even association with peers that negatively influence an individual.


Opiate Abuse

Opiate substances fall under a drug class of narcotic painkillers. Although most opiates are prescription narcotics, some opiates are illicit substances.

The most illicit type of opiate is Heroin, which is concentrated from Opium. Opiate abuse is an epidemic that is steadily increasing with the amount of overdose related deaths.

Opiates whether in prescription or illicit street form they are highly addictive. The addictive qualities of opiates are not only psychological but physical as well.

The symptoms of opiate abuse are typically: constant sedative state or sleepiness, which is commonly referred to as nodding off, restlessness, confusion, lack of ability to make decisions, anxiety, poor judgement, euphoria, lack of pain or feeling numb, depression of respiration, constipation, small pupils, and slurring of speech.

If you are having issues with opiate abuse, please seek help immediately. Individuals that use opiates chronically have a high likeliness of experience symptoms that are linked to a built up tolerance.

These symptoms are known as withdrawal, which can be unpleased. However, the experience of withdrawal symptoms beats death by overdose any day.

The Neurological Impact

Every substance of abuse sends activating signals to the brain in order to produce a desires euphoric effect. However, there are a great amount of negative consequences that come from abusing such substances.

Some of the negative impacts that substances have on an individual’s brain are: widespread damage, seizures, memory loss and stroke.

These consequences ultimately will affect every aspect of an individual’s day to day living. Substance abuse is also connected to problems with processing information, decisive thinking and overall attention.

When substances are abused for a long period of time, the changes that occur within an individual’s neurological chemistry, if not permanent, can last more several years.

Sometimes these neurological changes can leave an individual with other mental health difficulties such as major depression, paranoia, psychosis, hallucinations, aggression and many more.

The neurological effects of substance abuse are disruptive to an individual’s productivity and positive progression in living.

Medical Consequences

Those who suffer from substance abuse are more susceptible to underlying and accompanying medical issues. Some of these medical issues include, lung disease or cardiovascular disease, cancers, stroke and additional mental disorders.

The impact of substance abuse and addiction are often times beyond comprehensible. Most substance cause changes in one’s body, including a dramatic incline of temperature, and change in appetite.

These are known to afflict various health conditions. The health conditions that are of concern in someone who abuses substances are system-heart function abnormalities and heart attacks; Infectious diseases- Hepatitis, HIV and AIDS; Respiratory system, effecting an individual’s breathing; Musculoskeletal system which effects bone growth and leads to overall weakness in muscle; and the gastrointestinal system resulting in stomach issues and damage to the liver.

Some substance cause damages to the kidneys which can lead to kidney failure. This is due to the incline in body temperature as well as, the breakdown of muscle. Additionally, chronic abuse of some substance is known to cause significant harm to an individual’s liver.

The health consequences of substance abuse are not pleasant and are a reality for many people in recovery from addiction. Get help with substance abuse or addiction before your wellness declines and the potential of health conditions rise.

The Difference of Dependence and Addiction

So, you may be thinking what is the difference of dependence from substance abuse and addiction. Well to provide some clarity on the subject, addiction is linked to the inability to stop the use of substances, regardless of circumstances or consequences.

Addiction is overall separated from dependence because of the neurological connection. Dependence includes only a physical need, however with addiction one has a neurological as well as a physical need. When someone is dependent on a substance they are able to ween off of that substance and presume living life in a positive and productive light.

With an individual who is impacted by addiction, he or she has brain chemicals change trough a re-wiring process. This re-wiring links the use of substances to survival and ultimately takes over complete control in one’s life and ability to make decisions for him or herself.

Addiction makes people lose control and subjects them to obsession over their drug or drink of choice. Loss of the will power and personal control in one’s life is intimidating for a person, similarly for the individuals loves ones.

Substance abuse commonly leads to chemistry change in the neurological system that is known to consume all balance and stability that an individual may have in his or her life.

Additionally, the individual impacted by addiction will experience a strong and unpleasant impact to their mind, body and spirit.


Club Drug Abuse

Abuse of club drugs, such as, Methamphetamines, Ecstasy, MDMA, GHB, LSD, Ketamine, Rohypnol and other dissociative drugs is commonly found in young adults, college students and teenagers.


Club drugs are used to enhance pleasant feeling and a good time in nightclubs, parties, bars and concerts.

Individuals in their early adult years will experiment with the use of club drugs, which can a high risk of turning into a serious addiction and substance abuse.

The symptoms of a club drug’s abuse vary quite a bit, due to the difference in effects produced by each type of drug.

Methamphetamine drug abuse often has symptoms similar to: an increase in state of wakefulness, increase in breathing, increased physical activity, decreased appetite, irregular heartbeat, an incline of heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure.

Whereas, MDMA symptoms appear as: low inhibition, confusion, problems with sleeping, tense muscle, enhanced senses, depression, faintness, nausea, clenching of teeth, chill, and a rocket in body temperature which is linked to liver, kidney, heart failure or death.

Dissociative club drugs like LSD, produce symptoms of: rapid emotional stages, distorted reality, inability to rationalize, struggles with interpersonal communication, high body temperate, heart rate increase, insomnia, numbness, weakness, dizziness, enlarged pupils and tremors.

What to Do When Symptoms Are Present?

If you notice the presence of substance abuse symptoms, you should reach out and get support. Getting past substance abuse will not be as difficult if addiction has not yet taken precedence.

However, if addiction is present in your own, or someone else’s substance abuse, the result can end up life-threatening, exhausting and even fatal. Whether or not addiction is present is someone is abusing a drug, it is imperative that help is sought.

Getting through substance abuse on one’s own is not normally done successfully. Interpersonal support is often times needed to get through an intimidating situation as this.


Tackling Symptoms by Getting Help

If you are on this page, it’s certainly likely that you are understanding how completely exhausting it is to battle with substance abuse and addiction. Getting past substance abuse may seem impossible at the moment, but it is not.

There is help and support available for those who are in need. Having a loved one or someone you care about who is currently abusing substances, this is most likely effecting his or her life on a progressive and personal level.

Many people who are abusing substances are afflicted with the chronic illness of addiction. Please do not be discouraged by this, there is help available in practically every city and state. There is hope for a life without substance abuse.

Seeking help for substance abuse has brought beauty and light back into an abundance of individuals lives and their families. If someone dear to you is abusing substances and you just are not sure of what to do, contact an interventionist. Having an intervention is the best route to combating the substance abuse that is taking place.

Substance abuse is able to be overcome but only with the right support and care. Although, putting your foot down against a loved one’s addiction that is causing them tremendous pain may not be easy for you, it is highly important that you do not give up and stay hopeful for his or her life free of substance abuse.

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