Discovering that someone close to you may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be fraught with emotion. Understanding substance abuse and its consequences can be the start of a long journey for both the drug user and their support network. So, it is important to know if your suspicions are accurate.
Below, you will learn how to tell if someone is high through both physical symptoms and behavioral changes. While each list is not exhaustive, they should give you a wide range of criteria to confirm your suspicions if you do not find drug paraphernalia.
Physical Symptoms of Substance Abuse
Recognizing whether someone is abusing drugs can sometimes be as simple as seeing the signs on their body, but it may depend on the substance used. Alcohol abuse, for example, is more noticeable due to bloodshot eyes and the smell of alcohol on one’s breath. Opioid abuse is more likely to cause constricted pupils and track marks from injection sites.
If you are unsure whether you are seeing symptoms of drug abuse, you can always talk with qualified professionals. They can help you recognize whether any of the following are signs of a larger problem.
Many substances can cause dilation of blood vessels in the eyes, giving them a bloodshot appearance. This symptom often comes alongside eye dryness and more frequent blinking, which can act as a secondary confirmation of it as a sign.
You often see this symptom in those who use cannabis, though it can also come from alcohol, cocaine, or the use of many other drugs. Despite this, it is important to recognize that in the absence of other symptoms, this may be a simple eye infection. Check whether both eyes are suffering the same issue, for example, or if other signs of drug abuse exist.
Several drugs cause someone’s pupils to grow very large. They will also not shrink in response to light, proving that they are being affected by an outside force.
Substances such as cocaine, methamphetamines, MDMA, or LSD can all cause dilated pupils. It is important to note, though, that different substances can often have varied effects depending on the individual. Learn whether the person has had a recent burst of energy or is in a state of agitation to work out if it is a sign of drug use.
Drugs such as alcohol and marijuana can give people difficulty with their motor skills. This can lead to difficulty walking, poor hand-eye coordination, or general clumsiness.
You may also see this symptom if people take a long time to perform simple tasks due to taking more care with each step. Other signs can include a less steady gait as they move around or more difficulty in grasping objects in their hand. Some people may try to hide or offset this by holding more objects with two hands.
This symptom is a potential danger to the substance user due to them not being able to drive or operate machinery safely. It can lead to job loss or even the potential of causing harm to others.
While this sign of drug use is more associated with alcohol abuse, it can also result from taking several other drugs. Opioids are one of the more common substances that also cause this issue.
When suffering, the person’s speech will be slower as they try to concentrate on speaking. They may also be harder to understand or be unable to express more than a mumble.
The nature of this change to a person’s breathing is different depending on the substance used. Depressants such as alcohol often cause slower, shallow breathing. Stimulants such as cocaine, though, tend to produce more rapid intakes of breath.
Increased Heart Rate
Stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamines can often boost a person’s heart rate to faster levels. In some cases, it can cause chest pain, discomfort, or even heart palpitations.
Be aware that if this continues over a long period, it demands medical attention, and so might be something you will want to warn a drug user about.
Some drugs, such as marijuana or alcohol, have a very distinct smell. You may be able to detect it on someone’s clothes, breath, or where they spend a lot of their time.
Behavioral Indicators of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Sometimes, changes in behavior are the first signs that someone has started abusing substances. This is because people may hide physical symptoms, but changes in habits are often more obvious.
Those who work in addiction rehab centers are well-trained to recognize and deal with such behavioral changes. The staff often have experience in managing even the most extreme behavior with professional candor. You can also expect them to have undergone expert training to ensure they keep both patients and themselves safe.
Withdrawal From Social Activities
Moving from an active social life to being reclusive can suggest a change in priorities and a preoccupation with substance use.
Be careful, though, as this may also be a symptom of many other things, such as:
- Changes in interests
- Social drama
Talk to the person and try to find out if they can suggest specific reasons for the change in behavior. If not, they may be trying to hide drug use.
Changes in Friend Groups
Abandoning old friends for new ones, especially those who might be able to offer them drugs or alcohol, can be a major sign to watch out for. Ask the old friends if there is a reason for their drifting apart or if they are worried about the person, too.
Mood Swings or Behavioral Changes
Sudden and unpredictable shifts in someone’s mood, such as elation or depression, can suggest drug abuse. It can be a sign of either recent use or a symptom of withdrawal.
More long-term mental health changes can also come from substance use and could cause major issues if not resolved or discussed.
A person wanting a sudden increase in privacy, especially when they enjoyed transparency in the past, might be a sign of hiding drug use. Examples of this behavior include:
- Sneaking out of the house
- Hidden financial transactions
- Lying about their activities
These could all suggest a growing dependence on substances and an unwillingness to discuss them.
You should note, though, that there may be innocent reasons for these actions. The person may be asserting independence due to a personal change, for example. Try to learn more about the situation so that you do not cause embarrassment or harm.
If a person seems to be facing increasing debts or constantly asks for money from friends or family, it may be a sign of drug abuse. It usually suggests a person is prioritizing finding their latest “fix” over better financial decisions.
You may also see this occur if people sell off a large quantity of their belongings.
As people focus more on using substances, they may start to neglect other parts of their lives. These can include work, school, or even hobbies they used to enjoy.
The extreme high one can get from many drugs may even lead to a sense of apathy for things people might have enjoyed before. It may also lead to indifference towards many aspects of their daily life.
Over time, this lack of motivation can cause real harm in someone’s career or social life, and it is important to recognize it before it escalates.
A lack of drive may also sometimes make it more difficult to get someone to recognize they need help. Actively supporting them in getting to a local rehab center by driving them or calling a taxi may be necessary to get them started on a healing journey.
If a person starts to get more frustrated over minor issues, it could be due to depression or anxiety, which are often made worse due to substance abuse.
In some cases, these mental health issues may be unrelated. So, be careful of jumping to conclusions without investigating.
Essential Highlights: How to Tell if Someone Is High
Have you recently noticed some of the above changes in someone you know? Seeing these signs may be the first step in getting them help. It must not be only you who notices them for what they are, though, but also the drug user.
In discussing drugs or alcohol abuse with someone, you can point out how their actions and demeanor have impacted others. This can drive them to decide whether they can make healthy decisions or if they need professional help.
Navigating the Path to Recovery
Knowledge of how to tell if someone is high is a valuable resource that can ensure you treat someone right at what may be their lowest point. Uncovering these signs is only one step toward recovery, though. This is where places like Purpose Healing Center can help.
We understand every person’s needs are unique. As such, we provide experts from across the medical field to ensure we can offer the best addiction treatment for every patient who comes to us. Therefore, we invite you to reach out for help in guiding your loved one toward a path of recovery today.