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Signs of a Drug Problem

When drug use interferes with your daily life, there may be a problem.

People use prescription or recreational drugs for a variety of reasons: whether out of curiosity, to relax or socialize, or because a family member or loved one also uses drugs. However, when drug use interferes with your daily life, there may be a problem. If you notice that your use, or a family member's or friend’s use, gets in the way of sleep, relationships, work, or fulfilling responsibilities — or if it’s significantly affecting your mood — then it may be time to reach out for support. If you’re ready, taking that first step can get you on a path to recovery.

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Checking in: What does drug abuse look like?

Drug abuse affects all kinds of people in many ways. People often think that drug abuse means that your life is falling apart. But people experience trouble with drugs in small ways all the time. Whether your use is causing major issues in your life, or just getting in the way of things you’d rather be doing, it may be a good idea to take another look at when and why you use.

Have you noticed that you …

  • Use drugs to forget something in your life or past?
  • Find yourself longing for the drug or feeling strong urges?
  • Experience symptoms of withdrawal — like muscle pain, nausea, or anxiety — when you don’t use?
  • Act unlike yourself to get access to the drug?
  • Have a hard time managing stress without using?
  • Have trouble maintaining relationships, hobbies, or activities because of your drug habits?
  • Consistently go over limits you set for yourself?
  • Have found yourself in dangerous situations because of your use?

Many people use drugs to cope with tough situations, and they can provide temporary relief. However, over time, using drugs can affect your work, your finances, your relationships, and your physical health — and since our bodies are wired to seek pleasure and relief, many people have had a hard time cutting down on their own.

If you’re concerned about your drug use and you’d like more information, Mayo Clinic provides a helpful breakdown of signs and symptoms of drug use by category.

Find support and resources near you.

Knowing your risk factors

Many people have participated in recreational drug use at some point in their lives, but some of us are more likely than others to develop problems with drugs. Some risk factors may be beyond your control, but knowing the factors that can contribute to substance use problems can empower you to take steps toward reducing your likelihood of developing an addiction.

Risk factors you need to know:

  • Gender: Studies show that people of different genders use drugs in different ways. Women may develop an addiction earlier in their drug use than men.
  • Genetics: If you know that someone in your family has a substance use problem, you may be more likely to develop one, too.
  • Method of use: Injecting or smoking drugs like cocaine, opiates, heroin, or opioid painkillers can increase the risk of developing an addiction.

Situational factors you can control:

  • Friends: When you spend a lot of time with people who regularly use drugs, you tend to adopt their habits.
  • Environment: Some areas of the country have higher rates of drug use than others do, creating a culture of drug use that can increase the risk for drug-related problems.