Most drug addictions start with casual or social use of a drug. For some people, this is as far as it goes. For other people, using the drug becomes a habit and use becomes more and more frequent. As time passes, you may need larger doses of the drug to get high. Soon you may need the drug just to feel good. As your drug use increases, you may find that it becomes increasingly difficult to go without the drug. Stopping may cause intense cravings and make you feel physically ill (withdrawal symptoms).
Drug addiction symptoms or behaviors include:
- Feeling that you have to use the drug regularly — this can be daily or even several times a day
- Failing in your attempts to stop using the drug
- Making certain that you maintain a supply of the drug
- Spending money on the drug even though you can’t afford it
- Doing things to obtain the drug that you normally wouldn’t do, such as stealing
- Feeling that you need the drug to deal with your problems
- Driving or doing other risky activities when you’re under the influence of the drug
- Focusing more and more time and energy on getting and using the drug
Recognizing drug abuse in teenagers
Possible indications that your teenager is using drugs include:
- Problems at school. Frequently missing classes or missing school, a sudden disinterest in school or school activities, and a drop in grades may be indicators of drug use.
- Physical health issues. Lack of energy and motivation may indicate your child is using certain drugs.
- Neglected appearance. Adolescents are generally concerned about how they look. A lack of interest in clothing, grooming or looks may be a warning sign of drug use.
- Changes in behavior. Teenagers enjoy privacy, but exaggerated efforts to bar family members from entering their rooms or knowing where they go with their friends might indicate drug use. Also, drastic changes in behavior and in relationships with family and friends may be linked to drug use.
- Spending money. Sudden requests for money without a reasonable explanation for its use may be a sign of drug use. You may also discover money stolen from previously safe places at home. Items may disappear from your home because they’re being sold to support a drug habit.
Recognizing signs of drug use and dependence
The particular signs and symptoms of drug use and dependence vary depending on the type of drug. You might be able to tell that a family member or a friend is using or abusing a drug based on the physical and behavioral signs and symptoms associated with the drug.