How to Tell if a Loved one is Using

11 Signs Your loved one is addicted to drugs and alcohol

How do you tell if a loved one is using drugs or alcohol? While everybody exhibits different signs and symptoms, various telltale signs will allow you to identify a drug or alcohol addiction.

Many times, we know something is wrong, but it may not always be easy to determine what the problem is. For those of you who suspect that a loved one or family member is losing the battle of drug or alcohol addiction, here are some quick and easy telltale signs that there very likely is a drug or alcohol problem going on.


• Pinned pupils, extra-large pupils, glossy, shiny or red eyes, can’t keep eyes open and very minimal eye contact.

• Slurred, drawn, mumbled, or very fast. Most conversations will be very short or excessively long. Avoidant answers, or over-explaining.

• Needle impressions (often called “track marks,” that look like tiny scratches mostly on the arms), poor hygiene, tight or gnashing jaw, calloused fingertips (especially the thumbs), sweating and possibly scabs (especially on the face).

• Money (there will never be enough). Always a plan to get more. This may include missing items like jewelry, electronics or cash.
• Avoidant in conversation/over defensive.
• Doors always locked. Extended periods in bathrooms especially.
• Little to no sleep, or oversleeping.
• “Nodding out” – this looks like falling asleep and can even happen while talking or eating.
• Change of regular patterns.
• Isolating.
• Rarely home.
• Always late or no show.
• Burn holes in clothes.
• Tired and or “sick” often.
• Wears long sleeves when it’s not cold.

• Paraphernalia – “baggies,” cigarette cellophane not on the packs, spoons bent or missing, bottle caps in odd places, the remaining residue (black tar-like substance) on items like straightened out paper clips, many lighters (often cheap ones), rolled up money and short straws.
• Burn holes in furniture
• Dirty clothes, a lot of clutter.
• Multiple unfinished beverage bottles

• Social media: no pictures, few if any posts. Many will ultimately deactivate their accounts when using or drinking.
• Lost phone or continually changing their phone number.
• Consistently low charged or dying phone.
• Prefers text over talking if still in communication at all.
• Does not answer the phone.

No one person will fit all of these characteristics. There are different kinds of drugs which cause different effects and behaviors. Some are uppers; others are downers. This is a general list that includes various responses from different substances. If your loved one has a more than several of these symptoms, it’s very likely that they need help immediately. Reach out to GateHouse to get treatment for you or a loved one call (855) 448-3588 today to talk to an admissions specialist.

GateHouse Treatment Editorial Staff
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