Addiction Signs and Symptoms

  • Abrupt changes in work or school attendance, quality of work, work output, grades and discipline
  • Unusual flare-ups or outbreaks of temper
  • Withdrawal from responsibility, family and social groups
  • 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 when appropriate
  • 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 possessions
  • Poorly concealed attempts to avoid attention and suspicion such as frequent trips to storage rooms, restrooms, basement, etc.
  • Size of pupils - blown out pupils are indicative of stimulant use, such as crack, methamphetamine or cocaine; Pinpoint pupils can be indicative of depressant use, such as heroin or opiates.

Specific to ...


  • Odor on the breath
  • Intoxication
  • Difficulty focusing or glazed appearance of the eyes
  • Uncharacteristically passive behavior; or combative and argumentative behavior
  • Gradual (or sudden in adolescents) deterioration in personal appearance and hygiene
  • Gradual development of dysfunction, especially in job performance or school work
  • Absenteeism (particularly on Mondays)
  • Unexplained bruises and accidents
  • Irritability
  • Flushed skin
  • Loss of memory or blackouts
  • Availability and consumption of alcohol becomes the focus of all social and professional activities
  • Changes in peer-group associations and friendships
  • Impaired interpersonal relationships (troubled marriage, unexplainable termination of deep relationships, alienation from close family members)

Marijuana or Pot

  • Rapid, loud talking and bursts of laughter in early stages of intoxication
  • Sleepy 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 the speed limit
  • Distorted sense of time passage, tendency to over-estimate intervals of time intervals
  • Use or possession of paraphernalia, such as roach clips, rolling papers, pipes, bongs, etc.

Note: 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 it may be the same color or a bit greener than tobacco.

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