Signs & Symptoms of Drug Abuse

Bayside Marin is a premier rehabilitation center dedicated to the treatment of drug addiction in California. Bayside Marin blends evidence-based treatments with alternative, holistic modalities to comprehensively treat all aspects of our client’s life.

Understanding Drugs

Learn about drugs and substance abuse

Substance abuse, a concern that is known to affect men and women alike, occurs when a person overconsumes or ingests a substance for the purpose of achieving mind and/or mood-altering effects. Among the many substances known to be abused, alcohol, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, prescription painkillers, and synthetic drugs are of the most common. When this type of concern is present in an individual’s life, there are several adverse effects that are known occur as a result. Those who abuse drugs and/or alcohol are known to experience a decline in their mental and physical health, be more susceptible to job loss and financial difficulties, and experience a deterioration of meaningful relationships with others.

Substance abuse can also progress into a dangerous cycle of self-destruction and lead to the development of an addiction. Should an individual fail to seek treatment for a concern of this kind, there is a risk for that person to become physically dependent on a substance, of which can making overcoming an addiction that much more difficult. However, even if physical dependence on a given substance manifests, there are substance abuse treatment options in existence that can help a person break free from the vicious cycle of addiction.


Drug addiction statistics

It is estimated that nearly 24 million people, or 9% of the total population, in the United States have used or abused drugs and/or alcohol at some point in their lifetimes. This concern is a nationwide problem that has continued to grow despite attempts to criminalize the manufacturing, distribution, and possession of certain drugs. Furthermore, researchers are anticipating that substance abuse and addiction in the United States could become a greater concern with the introduction of new, synthetic substances becoming more and more prevalent and popular.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for drug addiction

In order to understand why and how a person comes to abuse drugs and/or alcohol, one must know that several contributing factors are at work. Research has yet to establish a single, identifiable cause that explains how a substance abuse problem develops in some people and not in others, however, the following causes and risk factors are among the most cited by professionals in the fields of addiction and mental health:

Genetic: Through extensive research, it has been realized that there is a connection between genetics and the susceptibility to developing an addiction. When a person has a family history of substance abuse and/or addiction, there is a high likelihood that that individual will also endure similar struggles at some point. In lieu of this linkage, it can be stated that one’s genes do influence whether or not substance abuse will be a factor in his or her life.

Environmental: The environment or places in which a person spends most of his or her time can ultimately influence whether or not an individual will come to abuse substances. Residing in a low socioeconomic area, having easy access to drugs and/or alcohol, and possessing a personal history of being victimized via abuse, neglect, crime, or another form of trauma can all increase a person’s vulnerability to abusing substances. Furthermore, if an individual has lacked guidance from caregivers and support from his or her primary support network, it is likely that any undue stress can cause a person to use drugs and/or alcohol to cope with turmoil.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of chemical dependency or mental illness
  • Personal history of mental illness
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Low self-esteem
  • Low self-worth
  • Peer pressure
  • Exposure to chaos
  • Easy access to substances
  • Lack of employment
  • Exposure to violence
  • Being the victim of abuse, neglect, or crime
  • Exposure to trauma
  • Lack of caregiver involvement early in life
  • Poor parenting during formative years
  • Lack of effective, appropriate coping skills

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of drug addiction

There are many telltale signs that can suggest that a person is abusing drugs and/or alcohol. Depending on the substance that is being abused, the amount of the given substance or substances that is being consumed, and the length of time an individual have been struggling with substance abuse can all affect the obviousness of a substance abuse problem. If you are concerned that you or a loved one is battling an addiction, it is a good idea to take note of the following signs and symptoms:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Lethargy
  • Declined participation in things that were once enjoyed
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Poor coordination
  • Increased conflict with others
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Change in peer group
  • Unwarranted outbursts of varying emotions
  • Missing days of work
  • Inability to fulfill roles or responsibilities
  • Hyperactivity

Physical symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Poor hygiene
  • Injection sites
  • Shakiness / tremors
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss / gain
  • Insomnia / hypersomnia
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Impaired memory
  • Derealization
  • Poor decision-making
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Inability to reason
  • Psychosis
  • Delayed thinking
  • Confusion
  • Poor concentration

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Abrupt changes in mood
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Depressed mood
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Changes in temperament


Effects of drug addiction

The effects of having a substance abuse problem can be far-reaching and impact not only the person abusing drugs and/or alcohol, but also close loved ones as well. The listed effects are those that can occur if a person does not seek treatment to end an addiction to substances:

  • Heart failure
  • Hindered lung functioning
  • Stroke
  • Coma
  • Inability to acquire or maintain steady employment
  • Financial strife
  • Homelessness
  • Interaction with the legal system
  • Malnutrition
  • Memory loss
  • Damage to the central nervous system
  • Elevated risk for certain cancers
  • Addiction
  • Chemical dependence
  • Deterioration of meaningful relationships
  • Onset of a mental health condition
  • Exacerbation of symptoms associated with a mental illness or illnesses
  • Compromised immune system
  • Possibility of exposure to viruses, such as hepatitis or HIV/AIDS
  • Damage to the heart
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicide attempts
  • Overdose
  • Death

Co-Occurring Disorders

Drug addiction and co-occurring disorders

In the event a person is grappling with a mental illness, the abuse of drugs and/or alcohol can exacerbate the severity of any existing symptoms afflicting that individual. Additionally, the abuse of certain substances can cause a person to experience the onset of symptoms synonymous with mental health conditions; although, when this is the case, the individual likely has a genetic predisposition to a given disorder or disorders. The following mental health disorders are those that are frequently diagnosed in individuals who are struggling with chemical dependency concerns:

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Another substance use disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of drug withdrawal and overdose

Effects of withdrawal: Ceasing one’s use of drugs and/or alcohol can result in the onset of withdrawal symptoms. When a person’s body becomes accustomed to the presence of drugs and/or alcohol, the body is likely to have a physiological reaction when certain substances are no longer present. This reaction is known as withdrawal and can manifest in the following ways:

  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Muscle pain
  • Bone pain
  • Psychosis
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Elevated levels of anxiety
  • Depressed mood
  • Profuse sweating
  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Intense cravings to use drugs and/or alcohol
  • Chills
  • Tremors

Effects of overdose: When a person abuses drugs and/or alcohol and develops a tolerance for these types of substances, it is likely that that individual will require greater amounts of his or her substance of choice in order to experience the desired effect. When alcohol or any drug is consumed in larger amounts, overdose becomes a serious risk that could occur. Depending on the substance that is being used or abused, the following are examples of what can happen when a person is experiencing an overdose:

  • Stroke
  • Onset of psychosis
  • Coma
  • Confusion
  • Chest pains
  • Labored / slow breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure

I have already recommended this facility to others seeking addiction treatment and will continue to do so. It really is a luxury facility with the best quality of care.

– Anonymous Client
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