How To Recognize Substance Abuse In Your Loved One

Posted on: 4 November 2020

Substance abuse is a terrible disease that can eat away at families and ruin lives if treatment isn't sought out as soon as possible. Whether it is alcohol abuse or other, harder drugs like heroin, methamphetamines, or cocaine, the result is always the same if left untreated. That is the last thing you want for your loved one, so it is important to try to recognize the signs of substance abuse before it takes over their entire life. If you recognize the signs, you may be able to intervene and get them some help before they spiral out of control. 

Changes In Physical Appearance

Perhaps the easiest way to tell if something is wrong with your friend or family member is if they fluctuate in weight rapidly, or if their skin pigmentation changes to a more pale, clammy color. Heavy drugs can affect your body in many different ways, so any drastic physical change in combination with other signs is generally a good indicator of substance abuse. You might notice, if your loved one used to be very particular about grooming, that they have suddenly lost all interest in getting their hair cut or smelling nice. Keep an eye on their physical appearance as often as you can if you are worried about them, as this will be one of the only tells they cannot hide.

Always Sick

If your friend or family member seems to always have some affliction, whether it be a runny nose, allergies, a cough, or fevers, then this can be an indicator that they are suffering from continued exposure to heavy drugs. This is their body fighting back against the substance abuse, even if it seems like it may just be a regular cold. If they use being sick as an excuse to not see you more than a few times in quick succession, then this should trigger some alarm bells.


Many people who suffer from substance abuse tend to try to hide it from their close friends and family, and therefore withdraw from their normal social engagements. Remember, they are likely very embarrassed about this condition. This is why it is so important if you think anyone is suffering from substance abuse that you make time to see them and be with them. You never know how close someone is to the end of their line, and there are many great substance abuse treatment centers that can help them. Don't let them push you out.

For more information about the signs of substance abuse, contact a local treatment center.