There are times when the signs of addiction are so obvious, they could almost smack you in the face. And then, there are other times when you’re left without much more than a sneaking suspicion. 

But here’s the thing…

If your loved one is abusing drugs, time is of the essence. The longer they remain addicted, the more difficult it will be for them to regain control.

If you suspect someone has a substance abuse problem, look for the following signs. 

Mood changes

If someone in your life seems especially moody out of nowhere, they may have a problem with drug abuse. Everyone looks for the physical signs of addiction like bloodshot eyes, extreme weight loss/gain, twitching, etc. but one of the most telling signs comes from our emotional state.

Mood swings are a common sign of substance abuse, and they may seem to come out of nowhere. Someone may get excessively angry, sad or depressed and then swing back into another emotion quickly. 

Any sudden mood changes are a cause for concern, especially if the person is beyond their teenage years where mood swings are part of the growth process. 

Social isolation

When someone has a substance abuse problem, they must go through great lengths to hide their addiction. Even if you know they’re using, they aren’t exactly going to tell you whenever they do. “Sorry, I can’t come to your party. I’m going to be getting high all night.”

But you’ll notice that there’s a natural distance between you and this person that seems to emerge out of nowhere. They spend much more time alone than ever before.

Excessive lying

You may notice that someone who was previously very honest is suddenly guilty of lying. You’re not sure if you can even trust a word that comes out of this person’s mouth. This happens when people are abusing drugs because defending their behaviour becomes a matter of life and death. Nothing is more important than protecting their drug abuse, so they’ll lie to get drugs, and/or protect their drug abuse. 

Always broke

Regardless of this person’s social standing, when they become an addict, they’re likely to find themselves in a position where they’re always broke. This is because an addict will use as often as they can, and that often means depleting their savings to do so. 

After a while, every penny earned will go towards their drug of choice. 

This may be obvious or subtle, depending on how close you are with this person. But you’ll start to notice that they ask you for money more often than before. Their request may even come with a sob story about some unbelievable injustice that happened to them. 

If you suspect someone is abusing drugs, do not give them money. This is enabling and will only help them get deeper into their addiction. 


Once they have depleted their own funds and are no longer having success “borrowing” from friends and family, someone who is addicted to drugs will almost always begin stealing

This one can be surprising, especially when someone was of impeccable character before. But drugs change people’s brains, and they can cause otherwise well-adjusted people to do unthinkable things. 

DUI conviction

It’s possible for anyone without a substance abuse problem to make a mistake and be convicted of a DUI. But it’s much less likely than with a drug abuser. These people spend a good portion of their time under the influence and possibly driving while drugged. Although most people only think of a DUI coming from drinking and driving, high driving is just as dangerous and on the rise.

If you notice these or any other symptoms of addiction in a loved one, start a conversation with them. They’re likely to get angry or defensive, but your goal is to let them know you’re there for whenever they’re ready to get help. 

Article written by Trevor McDonald