Signs of Drug Use

Signs of Drug Use

By Christopher A. Parrella, J.D., CHC, CPC, CPCO

Bloodshot eyes, incoherent behavior and a disheveled appearance are some of the more obvious signs that someone you know, or love may be using drugs.

Not all drug users are alike. It may not always be easy to determine if someone is using drugs or if there is something else going on in their life. In fact, there are some people who are perfectly capable of managing their drug addiction for long periods of time without anyone suspecting something is going on.

Some of the obvious signs of drug use include:

Changes in appetite – Depending on the drug, this may mean an increase or decrease in eating.

Changes in behavior – Some drug users become lethargic or depressed, others are more irritable or angry.

Physical changes – This can include anything from bloodshot or glazed/unfocused eyes, to not caring about their appearance.

Psychological changes – Mood swings, paranoia, episodes of violence, depression are just some of the signs.

Changes in work/school performance – Students may stop caring about their grades, while workers may show up late, fail to do their job properly, or not show up at all.

Changes in relationships – Some may shut themselves off from family and friends or become defensive when asked about their behavior.

Risky behavior – Driving erratically, promiscuity, and engaging in illegal activity, particularly when the individual involved doesn’t have a history of such behaviors.


Although those are some of the general signs, there are more specific signs of abuse associated with specific types of drugs. For example:

Marijuana is known to cause “the munchies”. Someone taking cannabis-based drugs may eat more than usual. Those who smoke marijuana may suffer from bloodshot eyes or appear overly relaxed.

Cocaine can result in issues with a user’s nose. They may suffer from damage to the nasal passages resulting in either congestion or excessive nasal discharge. They also may exhibit increased agitation as well as excitability.

Heroin gives users a “rush” or a pleasurable high. It often is accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin. That often is followed by a feeling of drowsiness and impaired motor functions.

Opioids cause memory problems. People who use opioids may have slowed reaction times. They also cause issues with digestion and constipation.

Ecstasy and other so-called “club drugs” can cause slurred speech and excessive sweating. They can also cause involuntary teeth clenching, muscle tension, blurred vision and disorganized thoughts.

One of the best ways to determine if someone is using drugs is a urine drug test. EZ Test Cup has 5 and 12 panel drug test cups which test a variety of drugs. These test cups deliver results within five minutes and are 99 percent accurate.

If you wish to test for only one drug or a few specific drugs, individual test strips are also available at the EZ Test Cup Website.

The information provided is a guide and not meant to be a substitute for professional advice. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the information presented here, and any use of our products based on such information. Contact us today for more information at or call 561-218-4646.