If you suspect that someone you know or love is taking drugs then there are some signs and symptoms to look out for. There are many reasons why people get involved with drugs; many will need professional help in order to overcome their addiction. Here are some tips on what to look for and where to go for help.

An important thing to remember is that many people who take drugs will try to hide it and can become quite secretative. Their actions may give them away long before they are willing to admit to having an addiction.

Don’t blame
Most people with a substance-abuse issue won’t admit to having a problem. It is important to keep the lines of communication open so when the person is ready, they feel they have someone they can go to for help.

Mood changes
Many people taking drugs have a dramatic change in their personalities which express themselves in mood changes. The happy easy going person you once knew may become, irritable, angry and irrational for no apparent reason.

Money
Drugs are very expensive and people who use drugs often go through money very quickly in order to feed their habit. Keep an eye out to see if money goes missing or large amounts of money are being drawn out of their accounts on a regular basis.

Responsibilities
Many drug users are not able to carry out their normal responsibilities like going to school or work. If they start to behave irresponsibly for no apparent reason, keep a look out for how frequent the absences are and note what sort of excuses they are using.

Physical appearance
Taking drugs has a toll on the body because the body is being abused. Watch out for unexplained weight loss or dramatic physical changes in what was previously a healthy person (like teeth loss, glazed eyes, vacant expression).

Violent behaviour
Observe heightened aggression. Many substances alter chemicals in the brain, which can increase aggression. This change can result in irritability and physical violence.

If you think you know someone who is taking drugs and they need help, the following organisations can be contacted:
Cannabis Help Online

ReachOut Australia  

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.