Behavior Characteristics Associated with Substance Abuse

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms

Behavior characteristics associated with substance abuse

  • Abrupt changes in work or school attendance, quality of work, work output, grades, discipline.
  • Unusual flare-ups or outbreaks of temper.
  • Withdrawal from responsibility.
  • General changes in overall attitude.
  • Deterioration of physical appearance and grooming.
  • Wearing of sunglasses at inappropriate times.
  • Continual wearing of long-sleeved garments particularly in hot weather or reluctance to wear short sleeved attire.
  • Association with known substance abusers.
  • Unusual borrowing of money from friends, co-workers or parents.
  • Stealing small items from employer, home, or school.
  • Secretive behavior regarding actions and possesions; poorly concealed attempts to avoid attention and suspicion such as frequent trips to storage rooms, restroom, basement, etc.


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Signs of Stimulant Abuse

COCAINE, CRACK, CRANK, SPEED, AMPHETAMINES

  • Dilated pupils (when large amounts are taken).
  • Dry mouth and nose, bad breath, frequent lip licking.
  • Excessive activity, difficulty sitting still, lack of interest in food or sleep.
  • Irritable, argumentative, nervous.
  • Talkative, but conversation often lacks continuity; changes subjects rapidly.
  • Runny nose, cold or chronic sinus/nasal problems, nose bleeds.
  • Use or possession of paraphernalia including small spoons, razor blades, mirror, little bottles of white powder, and plastic, glass, or metal straws.


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Signs of Depressant Abuse
BARBITURATES, TRANQUILIZERS, BENZODIAPINES
  • Symptoms of alcohol intoxication with no alcohol odor on breath (remember that depressants are frequently used with alcohol).
  • Lack of facial expression or animation.
  • Flat affect.
  • Flaccid appearance.
  • Slurred speech.

Note: There are few readily apparant symptoms. Abuse may be indicated by activities such as frequent visits to different physicians for prescriptions to treat "nervousness", "anxiety","stress", etc.


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Signs of Narcotic Abuse
HEROIN, METHODONE, OPIUM, DILAUDID, CODEINE, MORPHINE

  • Lethargy, drowsiness.
  • Constricted pupils fail to respond to light.
  • Redness and raw nostrils from inhaling heroin in power form.
  • Scars (tracks) on inner arms or other parts of body, from needle injections.
  • Use or possession of paraphernalia, including syringes, bent spoons, bottle caps, eye droppers, rubber tubing, cotton and needles.
  • Slurred speech.

While there may be no readily apparent symptoms of analgesic abuse, it may be indicated by frequent visits to different physicians or dentists for prescriptions to treat pain of non-specific origin.


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Signs of Marijuana Abuse

  • Rapid, loud talking and bursts of laughter in early stages of intoxication.
  • Sleepy or stuporous in the later stages.
  • Forgetfulness in conversation.
  • Inflammation in whites of eyes; pupils unlikely to be dilated.
  • Odor similar to burnt rope on clothing or breath.
  • Tendency to drive slowly - below speed limit.
  • Distorted sense of time passage - tendency to overestimate time intervals.
  • Use or possession of paraphernalia including roach clip, packs of rolling papers, pipes or bongs.

Marijuana users are difficult to recognize unless they are under the influence of the drug at the time of observation. Casual users may show none of the general symptoms. Marijuana does have a distinct odor and may be the same color or a bit greener than tobacco.


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Signs of Hallucinogen Abuse
LSD, MESCALINE

  • Extremely dilated pupils.
  • Warm skin, excessive perspiration and body odor.
  • Distorted sense of sight, hearing, touch; distorted image of self and time perception.
  • Mood and behavior changes, the extent depending on emotional state of the user and environmental conditions
  • Unpredictable flashback episodes even long after withdrawal.


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Signs of Inhalant Abuse
GLUE, VAPOR PRODUCING SOLVENTS, PROPELLANTS, NITROUS OXIDE

  • Substance odor on breath and clothes.
  • Runny nose.
  • Watery eyes.
  • Drowsiness or unconsciousness.
  • Poor muscle control.
  • Prefers group activity to being alone.
  • Presence of bags or rags containing dry plastic cement or other solvent at home, in locker at school or at work.
  • Discarded whipped cream, spray paint or similar chargers (users of nitrous oxide).
  • Small bottles labeled "incense" (users of butyl nitrite).


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Signs of PCP (Phencyclidine) Abuse
ANGEL DUST

  • Unpredictable behavior; mood may swing from passiveness to violence for no apparent reason.
  • Symptoms of intoxication.
  • Disorientation; agitation and violence if exposed to excessive sensory stimulation.
  • Fear, terror.
  • Rigid muscles.
  • Strange gait.
  • Deadened sensory perception (may experience severe injuries while appearing not to notice).
  • Pupils may appear dilated.
  • Mask like facial appearance.
  • Floating pupils, appear to follow a moving object.
  • Comatose (unresponsive) if large amount consumed. Eyes may be open or closed.

Note: PCP has stimulant, depressant, hallucinogenic and analgesic effects. Which of these effects will be most pronounced is unpredictable, and depends on users personality, psychological state, and the, environment at time of use.


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