How to Identify an Addict

Learn how to identify an addict so you can help them get treatment

Are you concerned that someone you know may be addicted to drugs? Learning how to identify an addict is the first step to getting addicted individuals the help they need to recover from their addiction. Drug addiction is a growing problem that affects people of every age, gender, race, and socioeconomic status. The consequences of letting someone who is addicted to drugs persist without treatment can be catastrophic. Drug addiction can damage addicts’ mental and physical well-being, and depending on the substances that are abused, some of the damage may be irreversible. According to SAMHSA, an estimated 20.4 million adults needed substance use treatment in 2015. If you are wondering if someone you know needs help recovering from addiction, there are certain signs that will help you identify an addict.

How to tell if someone is on drugs

When someone is on drugs, there are certain unmistakable changes in the way they look and act. An addict may try to conceal these changes in appearance by various methods, such using eye drops to hide blood shot eyes, but these subterfuges do not hold up well if you look closely. You can tell someone is on drugs if they display:

  • Extreme drowsiness or excitement
  • Slurred or slow speech
  • Mental confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Lack of coordination
  • Pinpoint or enormous pupils
  • Tremors or shakiness
  • Decreased or increased appetite
  • Increased body temperature and blood pressure
  • Excessive sweating
  • Euphoria
  • Sleep disturbances

How to tell if someone is addicted to drugs

Over time, as addicts continue to use drugs, their behavior and personality changes as obtaining more drugs becomes the main focus of their live. If you are unsure if someone you know is on drugs, consider everything you know about the person and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have they started stealing money and drugs from family and friends?
  • Are they harming themselves in order to go to the emergency room and obtain drugs?
  • Are they “doctor shopping,” seeing multiple doctors to try to get prescriptions?
  • Are they avoiding family and friends?
  • Have they recently been fired or gotten reprimanded for poor performance at work or school?
  • Have they begun lying about their activities?
  • Are they having trouble meeting financial obligations they used to be able to handle?
  • Are they easily angered and aggressive for no reason?
  • Have they withdrawn from the activities and people they used to enjoy?

Signs of drug use

Addicts typically do their best to conceal their drug abuse from family and friends. As an addicts’ drug abuse progresses, there are certain signs of drug use that they may neglect to hide. These signs may be obvious, such as drug paraphernalia like glass pipes, small plastic baggies or rubber balloons, or syringes. The signs may be more subtle, such as missing valuables that have been sold, traded, or pawned to buy drugs. The addict may show track marks on their arms or feet, or suddenly begin wearing  long-sleeved shirts despite hot weather.

What to do once you identify an addict

If you determine that someone you know is a drug addict after reading about how to identify an addict, it is important to get them into an addiction treatment center as soon as possible. Many drug addicts are in denial about their substance abuse. Even if they are aware that they are addicted, many addicts are reluctant to enter rehab because they are afraid of going through withdrawal. Convincing someone that they are addicted to drugs and need help to stop is not easy. It often requires an intervention to get someone to enter an addiction treatment center.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.