Signs & Symptoms of Alcohol / Drug Abuse

Drug and alcohol abuse can take a huge toll on friends and family. It is not uncommon for friends and family to question at what point they need to intervene, how serious the situation is, and how much help the affected loved one is going to need in order to recover.

The first step in aiding a drug or alcohol abuser is to recognize that there is a problem. Although characteristics and symptoms of drug and alcohol abuse vary from individual to individual and from drug to drug, there are some signs to watch for and some surefire ways to tell if someone needs help.

Innocent social drinking can start out as no big deal and quickly lead to physiological and psychological addiction that should not be ignored. In the same light, other drugs can have similar, if not more devastating, effects.

Drinking alcohol becomes a problem when the person in question:

  • Begins to drink too much on a regular basis.
  • Drinks self-destructively.
  • Becomes dangerous to others when they drink.
  • Seems to have no control over their consumption.

Some signs of alcohol abuse include:

  • Drinking too much on a consistent basis despite ill health effects.
  • Driving under the influence (DUI).
  • Drinking while at work.
  • Arriving late consistently to school or work due to drinking.
  • Showing aggression or frustration over concerns about drinking habits.
  • Becoming violent or harming others after drinking.
  • Feeling great guilt or regret after drinking.
  • Drinking alone or in secret.
  • Desiring a drink in the morning to cure a hangover or to make oneself feel at-ease.
  • Scheduling an entire day around drinking and drinking events.
  • Drinking routinely everyday (creating a ritual of drinking).
  • Blacking out from drinking.
  • Losing interest in alcohol-free hobbies, activities, and passions.

Although different kinds of drugs can have a variety of effects on the user, almost all drugs cause an over-stimulating feeling of pleasure in the brain. In almost every case, drugs will eventually lead the regular drug user to an addiction to the feeling of euphoria produced when consuming drugs or alcohol.

There is a fine line between drug abuse and a drug problem or addiction. Generally speaking, if the drug is an illegal substance, the user has a problem. However, medications and prescribed drugs can also be addictive.

Signs and symptoms of drug abuse include:

  • Continued use of a drug despite ill health effects from its use.
  • Exhibiting personality traits unusual to the individual when not using such as increased irritability, excessive anger or hostility, over-anxiety, difficulty concentrating, or extreme fatigue.
  • Getting arrested for drug use or for stealing/obtaining/selling drugs.
  • Using drugs at school or work or arriving late to school or work due to drug use.
  • Showing aggression or great frustration over concerns about drug use.
  • Becoming violent or harming others after taking drugs.
  • Driving under the influence (DUI).
  • Using drugs when alone.
  • Scheduling the day around drug use.

Possible physical signs of drug use include:

    • Increased appetite.
    • Continually bloodshot eyes.
    • High blood pressure.
    • Abnormally fast or slow heartbeat.
    • Increasingly bad memory.


  • Faster or slower breathing.