Having these signs doesn't always mean a person is using
drugs. The behavior could be because of work or school stress, or it could be a
depression or another medical problem. But behavior
changes like these are common in people who abuse drugs.
signs of drug abuse and dependence include:
- Red eyes, a sore throat, a dry cough, and
- Needle marks on the arm or other area of the
- Small, "pinpoint" pupils in the eyes.
weight without trying to, or not feeling like eating.
- Changes in sleep behavior, such as not sleeping as well.
- Seeing things that don't exist (hallucinations).
Why do people start using drugs?
Drugs can make
you feel good for a while. They may make you feel energetic, self-confident,
and powerful. You may take a drug to reduce
anxiety or to help you forget a problem. Or you may
think drugs help you do better at work or school. You may take a drug because
you are curious about it or because your friends use it.
How are drug problems diagnosed?
Drug problems may
be diagnosed at a routine doctor visit or when you see your doctor for a health
or social problem linked to drug use, such as anxiety,
depression, or family conflict. If a partner or friend
thinks you have a drug problem, he or she may urge you to see your
Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and
past health, and he or she will do a physical exam and sometimes a mental
health assessment. Your doctor also may ask questions or do tests to look for
health problems linked to drug abuse.
If you think you or a loved
one might have a drug problem, use this short quiz to check for drug
Drug abuse screening test
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How are drug problems treated?
medicine, therapy, and self-help groups.
Your doctor may decide
you need detoxification, or detox, before you start treatment. Detox "flushes
out" the drugs in your body. You need detox when you are physically addicted to
a drug. Being physically addicted to a drug means that when you stop using the
drug, you have physical
withdrawal symptoms, such as feeling very sick to your
stomach or feeling very
anxious. So when you go through detox, you may need
medicine to help with withdrawal symptoms.
After detox, you focus on staying drug-free. Most people receive
some type of therapy, such as group counseling. You also may need medicine to
help you stay drug-free.
When you have stopped using drugs, you
have taken the first step toward
recovery. To gain full recovery, you need to take
steps to improve other areas of your life, such as learning to deal with your
work, family, and living situation in healthy ways. This makes it easier to