The Signs of Drug Addiction in Young Adults

Drug addiction is a chronic, destructive disease that can truly affect anyone, regardless of one's age, race, or upbringing. If you are here because you believe someone close to you is abusing drugs or alcohol, you may personally recognize that drug abuse can affect various people, directly and indirectly. The damaging aspects of substance abuse could be affecting you in some way right now. If you are worried young adult substance abuse rehababout the drug use of your son, your brother, your friend, your student, or even your self, it is important to identify and address the problem immediately.

The early onset of drugs and alcohol in adolescence can lead to great risk of substance dependence later in young adulthood, and bear negative consequences for life. It is true that addiction is a disease, but it is also one that is preventable and treatable. You can prevent it; you can intervene by knowing the signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol abuse and dependence. There is help for both you and your loved one, at any stage of addiction.

It can be extremely difficult to acknowledge that there is a possibility of a developing addiction in someone you love. It is important, however, to take action as soon as you recognize this risk. Understanding the nature of substance abuse and the toll it takes on people can ultimately save a life. If your teen is abusing drugs or alcohol, there is still time to make a change. By reading each of our drug specific pages, you can better understand what types of drugs teens are using today, the warning signs and symptoms of a developing substance addiction, as well as how to best deal with the problem at hand. Drug addiction can have a powerful hold on anyone, but adolescents, young adults, and their futures, are most at risk.

While the initial use of drugs is voluntary, no one can truly predict if he or she will become addicted to drugs. As substance use progresses, a person can develop a physical dependence on drugs. They develop a tolerance, and experience signs of withdrawal. Different drugs have different physical side effects, but the symptoms of addiction from substance to substance remain similar. If your son has any of the following signs or symptoms of drug abuse and addiction, consider talking to professionals immediately about teen rehab or drug treatment for adolescents.

How to Tell if Your Child is Using Drugs

Is your child avoiding eye contact with you at all costs? Has he been breaking curfew, asking for more money, or locking his bedroom door? Has he been talking on the phone in secret, or hiding his text messages and computer from you?

Any of these behaviors can be telltale signs of substance abuse. Oftentimes, drug users try to conceal their symptoms simply by “hiding out.” When confronted about their change in behavior, they almost always try to downplay their problem. If you are concerned for your son or worry someone you love might be abusing drugs, look for the following warning signs.

Behavioral issues can often predict a substance abuse disorder in young adults. You may notice:

  • Changes in relationships with his friends or family members
  • Recent isolation and withdrawal from others; exhibiting signs of depression
  • Hostile, angry, uncommunicative and/or demanding of privacy
  • A lack of coordination, lethargic, and having the inability to focus on priorities
  • A lack of motivation towards school, work, or once pleasurable activities

Physical symptoms also can accompany frequent drug use. Take note if your teen has:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Frequent nosebleeds (from snorting drugs)
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns 
  • Lack or personal hygiene or care in his appearance
  • Shakes or seizures 
  • Slurred speech
  • Skin abrasions/track marks
  • Sweatiness and headaches

If you know what signs to look for, you, as a parent, can determine if your child is in fact drinking or using drugs. By understanding the side effects of specific drugs, and the symptoms of an addiction, you can begin to address the situation and seek out a drug rehab specifically tailored for adolescents. 


Alcohol
Alcohol is the most widely abused substance in the United States. It is also the most widely used substance among adolescents and teenagers, due to its increasing availability. In fact, the average adolescent first experiences alcohol before the age of 13. 

Marijuana
Marijuana, commonly known as weed or pot, is the most widely abused illicit drug by young adults. Despite the fact that it is highly addictive and that frequent use often leads to harder, more toxic drugs, many people today accept marijuana as perfectly safe and acceptable to use.   

Opiates
Opiates are types of painkillers made from opium. The most commonly abused opiates are Oxycontin and Vicodin, commonly prescribed for pain following an injury or surgery. Because these drugs are highly addictive and often prescribed to teens, opiate use must be carefully monitored. 
 
Oxycontin
Oxycontin, or Oxycodone, is a form of opiate often prescribed to relieve moderate to severe pain. In high doses, Oxycontin will produce a whole body high, and relieve tension and anxiety for its user. When taken regularly and even when prescribed, Oxycontin can lead to a serious addiction. 

Heroin
Classified as a Schedule I drug by the DEA, heroin is one of the most highly addictive drugs out there today. Prepared from morphine, heroin produces a short-lived high that users compulsively seek to regain soon after use. Heroin can be snorted, smoked, or most seriously, injected.

Cocaine
Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that is emerging across schools and young populations worldwide. Sometimes referred to as coke or blow, cocaine is most often snorted, producing instantaneous side effects and great, yet fleeting, feelings of euphoria and leading users to seek it out compulsively all over again. 

Crystal Meth
Methamphetamines are potent, addictive stimulants most commonly abused by young adults in the United States. Because meth is often cut with cleaning products and produced in “home” labs, it is one of the dirtiest, and most dangerous, street drugs out there today. 

Prescription Drugs
Prescription drug use is widespread today, especially in teens and adolescents. Despite the drugs’ similarity to other dangerous substances such as heroin, prescription drugs are almost always assumed to be safe—because they are available, because doctors prescribe them, and because they are legal. When taken more than directed, though, prescription drugs can also be fatal. 
  
K2/Spice 
K2, or Spice, refers to a form of synthetic marijuana. It is blended with various dried, shredded plant materials and a mixture of chemical additives—labeled “not for human consumption”. Due to its “herbal” components, however, spice is often assumed to be both natural and safe, and is most widely used among young adults.   

Adderall
Despite being prescribed by doctors and having a positive reputation as a “study” drug, Adderall has been classified as Schedule II by the DEA, alongside other illegal stimulants like cocaine. Adderall is one of the most addictive prescription drugs on the market today and it is increasingly being abused by adolescents. 

Stimulants
Stimulants cover a large category of drugs of abuse, including illicit street drugs such as cocaine and crystal meth, and also prescribed stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin. Often called “uppers,” stimulant substances are most commonly abused among young adults who are looking for an easy and instantaneous high. 

Vicodin
Vicodin, a prescription medication used to treat moderate to severe pain, is perhaps the most commonly abused opioid today. It is also the painkiller most frequently prescribed. Physicians prescribe Vicodin to all different age groups to treat a variety of painful conditions, largely including dental and injury-related pain. 

Xanax
Xanax is a type of benzodiazepine (often referred to by young adults as “benzos”), a central nervous system depressant that poses great risk for addiction. Commonly called a “downer”, Xanax slows down brain activity by blocking brain receptors and inhibiting communication between neurons. It does so by hyperpolarizing these brain cells so that they become less active.. 

Bath Salts
Contrary to their name, bath salts are not bathing products. They are not the Epsom salts you dissolve in your tub. Rather, bath salts are a group of powerful, psychoactive drugs that are highly illegal across the nation. They are a constantly evolving family of substances that contain synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant. 

Inhalants
Inhalants are volatile substances or aerosols that produce chemical vapors and produce psychoactive, or mind-altering, effects when inhaled. Hundreds of different products can be classified as inhalants, many of which are in arm’s reach of your teen. Spray paints, glues, nail polish remover, lighter fluid, hair sprays, whipped cream canisters, and cleaning fluids are just some of the many products teens can abuse for instant intoxication. 

Fentanyl
Sold today as “China Girl” or “China White” (names that previously were tied to a brand of heroin), this Schedule II prescription drug has contributed to a recent string of overdose deaths, and its toxicity is largely to blame. Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine, 50 times more potent than heroin, and its effects are intensified even more in combination with other drugs. 

Ecstasy
Ecstasy is the street name for MDMA (short for 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), an illegal drug that acts as both a stimulant and a psychedelic. An amphetamine-like stimulant, ecstasy is extremely energizing and many teens use the drug to stay awake as they party. Its hallucinatory properties, in combination, allow a user to experience a distortion of time and sensory perception. 

Molly
Molly is now classified as a Schedule I substance, as it is not only illegal, but also carries a high potential of abuse. Found most commonly in pill form, Molly can be taken orally, injected, or snorted. Upon administration, Molly enters the blood stream and travels directly to the brain, altering its chemical structure and hindering proper communication between neurons. 

LSD
LSD or “acid” is one of the most powerful psychedelics abused by young adults. LSD abuse is a roll of the dice—its effects are completely unpredictable, and vary person to person. Because it is a man-made drug, LSD poses the risk of containing toxic chemicals that can harm users in different ways.