Signs & Symptoms of Drug Use

The American Council for Drug Education offers the following signs and symptoms of drug use that adults should be aware of:


Physical Signs:
  • Change in eating habits; decrease or increase in appetite, unexplained weigh loss or gain (decrease or increase depends on the drug used)
  • Slow or staggering walk
  • Poor physical coordination
  • Inability to sleep, awake at unusual times, unusual laziness
  • Red, watery eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual, blank stare
  • Cold, sweaty palms
  • Puffy face, blushing or paleness
  • Smell of substance on breath, body or clothes
  • Extreme hyperactivity or talkativeness
  • Runny nose, hacking cough
  • Needle marks on lower arm, leg or bottom of feet
  • Nausea, vomiting or excessive sweating
  • Tremors or shakes of hands, feet or head
  • Irregular heartbeat
Behavioral Signs:
  • Change in overall attitude/personality with no identifiable cause
  • Changes in friends, new hang-outs, sudden avoidance of old crowd, doesn’t want to talk about new friends, friends are know drug users
  • Change in activities or hobbies
  • Drop in grades or poor performance at work, skips school or is late for school
  • Change in habits at home, loss of interest in family and family activities
  • Difficulty paying attention, forgetfulness
  • General lack of motivation, energy, self-esteem, an “I don’t care” attitude
  • Sudden oversensitivity, temper tantrums or resentful behavior
  • Moodiness, irritability or nervousness
  • Silliness or giddiness
  • Paranoia
  • Excessive need for privacy
  • Physically unreachable
  • Secretive or suspicious behavior
  • Car accidents
  • Chronic dishonesty
  • Unexplained need for money, stealing
  • Change in personal grooming habits
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia

Remember, just because your child exhibits some of these characteristics or behaviors does not mean he/she is involved in drug use. These signs could indicate other problems, or they could just be part of typical adolescent behavior. If you are unsure, consult your child’s physician or talk with a health professional.