Signs of Drug Use

Thank you for Stas Novitsky for this list. From VCAM (Virginia Center for Addiction Medicine) in Henrico County, a clinic designed to offer comprehensive addiction treatment including outpatient services.

Keep in mind that it’s a combination of many of these signs that illustrate a drug habit.
This is not a complete list as substances to abuse are all over the place and around your

Signs of drug use

1. Missing money and jewelry
2. Asking for “gas/grocery” money at unreasonable rates (going through a lot of
money quickly to satisfy the drug craving and ignoring basic needs)
3. Eating a lot of food at odd hours of the night
4. Being overly protective and not letting you see their “personal” belongings (purse,
backpack, gym bag, phone or computer)
5. Trouble getting up in the mornings and waking up in the afternoon for a continued
6. Burn holes in clothes (Cigarette holes in clothes are often the result of “the nod”)
7. Withdrawing from family /friends into their room/themselves
8. Saying they’ll be home at a certain time and then staying out much later or not
coming home at all
9. Ignoring calls/texts from family (Check phone records and if you see 23 texts to
same number then a break in communication with a follow up text or call that lasts
less than a minute that’s usually a setup for a drug deal)
10. Weight loss/weight gain
11. Dilated pupils/use of eye drops
12. Multiple car accidents at odd times
13. Loss of interest in hobbies
14. Lack of motivation
15. Truancy (stop going to school)
16. Missing silverware and coins
17. Say they’re going to “store/restaurant” and then come back in 510 minutes or stay
out over a reasonable amount of time
18. Lack of selfcare (no showering, no brushing teeth, stop taking care of themselves)
19. Being overly defensive of what they’re doing “Hey what are you doing this
weekend?” … “I don’t know GOD! Leave me alone”
20. Being overly detailed of what they’re doing, making up stories of where they’re
21. Emotionless or overly emotional (things that used to make them happy don’t make
them happy anymore, responding acutely to things that shouldn’t be of much
22. Getting cash back on debit cards
23. Overly large purchases on credit cards/debit cards at unusual places like $300 at
wawa/walmart/target/other stores (typically buying gift cards to pawn at other
24. Transferring money from one account to another account
25. Not shaving for a while/lack of hygiene
26. Scabs and scars
27. Air freshener, incense, odor spray in their room Usually to cover up smoking smells
28. Detachment into room as soon as they walk into house, don’t interact with anyone
unless they need food, money, etc …
29. Leaving house at odd hours, leaving for short bursts of time to walk down the street
and back (picking up drug deliveries)
30. Blood on their clothes
31. Screen off bedroom window for sneaking out
32. Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors
33. Bags under eyes
34. Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination
35. Mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts
36. Always going somewhere at the last minute or showing up late for things despite
37. Dropping one group of friends from another
38. Demanding more privacy locking doors, avoiding eye contact
39. Black on their teeth from smoking pills
40. Runny nose in the summer time, sniffling
41. Alcohol is missing from house
42. Using lots of mouthwash to get rid of alcohol smell on breath
43. Missing mouthwash or vanilla products with alcohol
44. Air duster cans missing Huffing
45. Whipped cream is flat Addicts suck the gas from the Rediwhip can making it flat
or order/buy whipits
46. Unexplained accidents/bruises/cuts/etc.
47. Unexplainable sweating
48. It may be hot outside and they’re shivering or wrapped up in a sweater
49. Excessive smoking of cigarettes
50. Stash of plastic zip lock bags or a scale (objects use to sell marijuana to support a
drug habit)
51. Always wanting or deal only in cash
52. Seizures due to synthetic party drugs, inhalants or an overdose


Missing socket wrench pieces
Loud talking, inappropriate laughter followed by sleepiness, lots of motivation
Weight gain or weight loss
Glassy red eyes
Overly upbeat followed by overly anxious
Lots of water bottles that look funky and smoky or smell funny (water bottles also
used to disguise vodka)

Depressants (including Xanax, Valium, GHB)

Contracted pupils
Drunklike movements
Difficulty concentrating
Poor judgment
Slurred speech
Sleepiness Also called the nods (falling asleep in front of you)

Stimulants (including amphetamines, cocaine, crystal meth)

Dilated pupils
Hyperactivity and euphoria
Irritability and anxiety
Excessive talking followed by depression or excessive sleeping at odd times
May go long periods of time without eating or sleeping
Weight loss
Dry mouth and nose
If prescribed ADD meds, running out too quickly

Inhalants (glues, aerosols, vapors)

Watery eyes
Impaired vision, memory and thoughts
Secretions from the nose or rashes around the nose and mouth
Headaches and nausea
Appearance of intoxication
Poor muscle control
Changes in appetite
Lots of cans/aerosols in the trash
Dilated pupils
Bizarre and irrational behavior including paranoia, aggression
Mood swings
Detachment from people
Absorption with self or other objects
Slurred speech


Additional information on heroin abuse since that was Charles’ drug of choice.
Missing spoons and pieces of tin foil
Contracted pupils; no response of pupils to light
Needle marks (Injected and/or snorted)
Sleeping at unusual times
Coughing and sniffling
Loss of appetite
Really runny nose (for those who snort) When they wake up they’re sick, when they come home they’re suddenly not
“sick” anymore
They’re throwing up inexplicably to the point you think there is a stomach disease
Nodding off in front of you. Called “the nod”
Cigarette holes in their clothing because of nodding off
Long sleeves in warm weather To cover up track marks from needles
Unexplained weight loss