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Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse

Here are some signs and symptoms to look out for if you are concerned about the possibility of a loved one being involved with substance abuse of any kind. Different drugs produce different effects resulting in slight variations in outward indications. Some signs and symptoms are specific to opiates and narcotics and distinct from those experienced with Central Nervous Stimulants like Cocaine or depressants like alcohol.

The National Library of Medicine documents these telltale signs in drug-taking children that should alert parents:
* Change in friends.
Hanging out with a new group.
* Seclusive behavior - long periods spent in self imposed isolation.
* Long, unexplained absences.
* Lying and stealing.
* Involvement on the wrong side of the law.
* Deteriorating family relationships.
* Obvious intoxication, delirious, incoherent or unconscious.
* Changes in behavior and attitude.
* Decrease in school performance.

Always remember that any one of the above signs may not be enough to indicate substance abuse but should be enough to suggest that there may be a problem.

There are several other signs and symptoms that relate more specifically to the mental and physiological effects of substance abuse.

An obvious sign of opiate and narcotic abuse is the tracks of needle marks normally found on the upper arms of users. These needle marks often turn into skin abscesses that may leave visible scars. People who use this type of drug often cover up their arms even when the weather suggests more appropriate wear.

Opiate and narcotic abusers will experience an accelerated heart rate, constricted pinpoint pupils and a relaxed or euphoric state that may lead to a dangerous level of respiratory depression resulting in coma or death.

Other signs and symptoms of drug abuse are dilated pupils, restlessness, hyperactivity, euphoria, slurred speech, disabled co-ordination, decreased attention span and impaired judgment.

Source: Government information from The National Library of Medicine in the Public Domain.

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