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Signs of Drug Addiction

Here are some of the signs that you or another might be battling with a drug addiction.

* please note that this does not constitute medical advice and you should seek professional diagnosis & help.


The signs of drug addiction don’t remain hidden or invisible forever. There are huge impacts on the user, as well as a ripple effect across the user’s life including (but not limited to) their health, social life, physical appearance and financial situation. These effects present themselves to the user and the user’s loved ones. It’s important that you know what these signs are so that you can identify a potential drug addiction as early as possible.

This resource aims to provide a list of common signs of drug addiction, to help the user or their loved ones understand what drug addiction looks like day-to-day and longer term. We outline the common signs of drug use and how to tell if someone is on drugs and struggling with substance abuse.

Behavioural Signs Someone is on Drugs

Signs of drug useoften manifest through behavioural and psychological symptoms. These are observable patterns of behaviour. Both the user and other people would be able to notice these behaviours occurring.

Acquisition & use of addictive drugs

To know how to tell if someone is on drugs, understanding how a user acquires and uses addictive drugs is essential.

  • The user may have been prescribed a medication for health issues but continues to take the medication after the health problem has subsided.
  • The user may need to continue to take more and more of the drug to achieve the same effect. This phenomenon is known as drug tolerance.
  • The user no longer takes the same interest in work, family, school, socialising (and other activities), as one of their main priorities related to activities involved in acquiring more of the drug, as well as time spent using the drug, and coming down/experiencing withdrawals from the drug.
  • The user can’t stop themselves from using the drug, even if they want to. They are still using it even though it’s making bad things happen in their life, like trouble with friends, family, work, or the law. They may have occasional breaks from the drug but then return to using normally within weeks of trying to stop.
  • The user spends a lot of time planning how they will get more of the drug. This includes thinking about how they can afford more of the drug.
  • The user may borrow or steal money to pay for their drug use.
  • The user may attend multiple doctors / GP clinics to obtain scripts for the drug. Or the user may create false symptoms and lie to their GP to obtain scripts for the drug.
  • The user is unable to limit the amount of the drug they use. They justify themselves by saying they’ll only use a small amount, but cannot stick to the limit – they cannot stop once they have started.
  • The user has a hard time giving themselves limits. They might say they’ll only use “so much” but then can’t stop and end up using twice that amount. Or they may use it more often than they meant to.

Disregard & neglect due to addictive drug use

Disregard and neglect can stem from addictive substance use and can be telltale drug addiction signs.

  • The user will continue to use a drug, even though its use is creating scenarios where family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances and the general public may be exposed to or experience physical, emotional or psychological distress.
  • The user may be experiencing significant life interruption due to their drug use, including trouble with finances, the law, relationships and many other facets. Despite these issues and the threat of life becoming very difficult in the future, they continue to use the drug.
  • The user may look in other people’s medicine cabinets for drugs.
  • The user may be taking prescribed medications that have interactions or have effects that are negated by illicit drugs, yet they ignore the risk and use anyway.
  • The user may neglect their personal hygiene and appearance. This could involve changes in washing/bathing, upkeep of hair & makeup and changes in what they wear.
  • The user may continue to operate a car or heavy machinery while under the influence of the drug, despite the risks to themselves and others.

Hiding & denial of the drug addiction

Some other signs that someone is on drugs are that they may be secretive about their substance use or in denial about their addiction.

  • The user will either deny or downplay their drug use when questioned about it.
  • The user, when confronted, will deny or downplay their drug use. To avoid having to explain themselves to others, the person may do drugs in secret.
  • The user will often deflect any questions about drug use. They may verbally ‘attack’ the person asking the questions.

Social changes due to drug addiction

  • The user may spend a lot of time with a new crowd of people, and neglect to spend time with old friends or people they have previously been very close with.
  • The user may have lost interest in activities or social affairs they used to enjoy. Withdrawing from team sports, personal/professional development, work appointments and social catchups, just to name a few.
  • The user may have trouble building or maintaining relationships with people, including co-workers, teachers, friends, or family members.
  • The user may change their routine, this could be changes to their daily routine or weekly routine. The changes may represent the fact that they have been over/under sleeping.

Physiological Signs of Drug Addiction

Identifying physical drug addiction signs can be crucial in recognising a potential addiction. Some of these might be visible to others, and some are purely internal for the user. The types of physical signs will also depend on the drug being used.

General physical signs of drug addiction

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Blood noses
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Body odour
  • Shakes
  • Oversleeping / Undersleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unhealthy skin appearance
  • Scabs or scratches

Signs when someone might be using the drug

  • Anxiousness
  • Mood swings
  • Unexplained paranoia
  • Emotional withdrawal
  • Personality changes
  • Irritability
  • Lack of motivation

Signs when someone might be withdrawing from drug use

  • Sweating
  • Shaking/trembling
  • Little-to-no appetite
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Signs when someone might be overdosing from drug use

  • Drowsiness or trouble walking
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Loss of consciousness

Myself, or someone I care about might have a drug addiction.

Recognising the signs that someone is on drugs is the first step towards recovery. By understanding the physical, behavioural, and psychological indicators of substance abuse, individuals can seek timely intervention and support.

If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of drug addiction, it’s essential to seek help promptly. Habitat Therapeutics offers comprehensive treatment programs for various substance addictions, including heroin addiction, cocaine addiction, and alcohol addiction, Our experienced team provides personalised care and support to help individuals overcome addiction and regain control of their lives. Start your journey to recovery today.

Drug & Alcohol Rehab Melbourne
Drug & Alcohol Rehab Melbourne