From Teens to Employees: How to Tell If People Are on Drugs

Can you detect people on drugs?

It’s every parent’s nightmare to discover that their child has a drug problem. Employers also want to make sure their employees are giving their best work, free of the influence of drugs. About 10 percent of the population over the age of 12 has a problem with drug and alcohol use. This can impact friendships, relationships, and overall quality of life.

It’s not always obvious that someone has a problem. Some people have learned to hide it well. There are certain behavioral characteristics that people on drugs share. Find out what they are so you can step in and get them the help they need.

How to Tell If Someone Is on Drugs

The signs aren’t going to be obvious. The odds that someone is going to be stumbling all the time to tip you off are slim. You have to look for smaller signs that are easy to ignore.

Lack of Motivation

If someone enjoys working out and suddenly stops, it could be a sign that something is wrong. It could be due to a change in schedule, but there might be something deeper too.

Financial Issues

A drug problem can be very expensive. It can lead to people asking for money, maxing out credit cards, and stealing cash. Legal troubles also coincide with drug use.

If your child has an allowance and asks for an increase, you’ll want to keep an eye on them. You’ll also want to watch where you keep your cash in the house. In case you notice that something is missing, see if there’s a pattern of behavior before you start making assumptions.


Social isolation is a common sign of a drug or alcohol issue. Addicts tend to isolate themselves and exhibit unusual behaviors.

Increase in Risk-Taking

Someone on drugs may show less averse to risk. They might engage in stealing, driving under the influence, or other behaviors you may think of as stupid. That’s because inhibitions are reduced under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Physical Changes to Note

Drug use does have a negative impact on the body. These changes will show up when someone has a drug problem. The most common issues include changes in their eating habits accompanied by a dramatic change in weight (loss or gain). There are also changes in sleeping patterns, either sleeping more or less. One of the more obvious signs is in the eyes. Watery and frequently puffy eyes may be a sign of drug use.

Frequent Mood Changes

Drug use may cause various psychological changes. People on drugs may develop severe anxiety and depression. Mood swings, irritability, and feelings of euphoria are common too. You’ll want to observe the person for several days or weeks to see if they come down from their high into a depression. That’s a common trait of people on drugs.

Ignore Responsibilities

Are you dealing with an A+ student or employee who was always reliable? Did you notice a sudden shift in reliability? That can be a sign that he’s on drugs. Taking all of these signs individually may indicate another issue, such as stress or depression. Take all of these signs together, and they may pinpoint a larger problem. People on drugs will exhibit the majority of these signs at once.

Relationship Problems

When someone is taking drugs, they will isolate themselves. They have a tendency to cut others out. Combine that with frequent mood changes, and that’s going to have a negative impact on their relationships.

How to Approach Someone on Drugs

The hardest thing about these warning signs is that they’re similar to those of anxiety or depression. The changes might also be minimal, and you may think that it’s just a phase. This is the time to get involved and potentially save a life. That seems overly dramatic, but stepping in now prevents the issue from becoming worse.

You could start by having a conversation, keeping it calm and non-judgmental. You don’t want the conversation to escalate and the person to become defensive. Have the conversation in a private place that’s familiar to both of you. Ask questions and give them the space to talk. Let them feel safe; they need to know that they’re not in trouble and that you want to help.

You may need to have the conversation more than once. They may become defensive right away, no matter what you do. You’ll also need a support system in place. You can get the services of a therapist or reach out to a support group for help. There are also places like recovery centers that can guide you in getting the person on drugs the help they need.

If you’re not sure if your child or employee is using drugs, you can always ask them to take a drug test. You can easily get drug test kits that you can administer at home or in the office. This process can add a lot of stress to your life. Make sure you take care of yourself and your needs.

It’s Possible to Help People on Drugs

Drug and alcohol use can cause a lot of damage to a person’s life. You may not be able to detect people on drugs at first, but there are common warning signs to look for. A loss of interest in regular activities and small changes in behavior can be warning signs that someone is on drugs.

If you suspect that’s the case, have a conversation with them and get them the help they need. To do more research on drugs and addiction issues, take a look at these medical sites like WebMD.