Recognizing Signs of Drug Addiction in Men

Signs of Drug Addiction in Men

Table of Contents

Drug addiction can affect anyone, but recognizing the signs in men is crucial for early intervention and support. Understanding how addiction develops and identifying its physical, behavioral, and psychological symptoms can help in detecting the problem early. Men who are struggling with addiction often exhibit noticeable changes in their appearance, behavior, and social interactions. By being aware of these signs, you can take steps to offer help and guide them toward recovery. This article will explore the development of addiction, its impact on the brain and body, the cycle of addiction, and specific signs to look for in men.

How Drug Addiction Develops

Addiction starts quietly. It usually begins with experimentation, where someone tries a drug out of curiosity, peer pressure or to cope with stress. Then they start to like the drug. Then regular use becomes risky behavior, where the person puts drug use above all else, despite the consequences.

Eventually, that risky behavior becomes dependence. At this stage, the body and mind have adapted to the drug and need more of it to get the same high, a condition called tolerance. If they try to stop using the drug they will experience withdrawal symptoms which can be physically and emotionally painful.

The Brain and Body

Drug addiction affects both the brain and body. Drugs can alter the brain’s communication system, how nerve cells send, receive and process information. Many drugs mimic the brain’s natural chemical messengers but do so in a way that sends abnormal messages through the network.

For example, drugs like heroin and marijuana have the same structure as neurotransmitters, they fool the brain’s receptors and get nerve cells to send abnormal messages. Other drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine can get nerve cells to release too much of the natural neurotransmitters or prevent the normal recycling of these brain chemicals and send amplified messages.

These changes can affect many brain regions including those that control reward, motivation, learning, judgment and memory. Over time the brain adjusts to these disruptions and often reduces its own production of neurotransmitters. This creates a dependency on the drug to function normally and perpetuates the cycle of addiction.

Physically, addiction can cause many health problems such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and lung disease. The exact health problems depend on the drug, method of use and duration of use.

The Addictive Cycle

The addictive cycle is a vicious cycle that’s hard to break. It looks like this:
  1. First use: Someone tries a drug for the first time.
  2. Abuse: They keep using the drug despite the consequences.
  3. Tolerance: Their body adapts to the drug and needs more to get the same high.
  4. Dependence: They need the drug to function normally, physically and mentally.
  5. Addiction: They can’t stop using the drug despite wanting to and knowing the harm it’s causing.

Breaking this cycle often requires professional help and a strong support system. Treatment usually involves detox, therapy, and long-term follow-up to prevent relapse. Knowing the addictive cycle helps you to recognize the signs early and get help on time.

8 Signs of Drug Addiction in Men

1. Drastic Changes in Appearance

When men use drugs, you can often see big changes in how they look. They might quickly lose or gain a lot of weight. Many drugs make them eat less, causing weight loss. Some drugs might make them eat more or retain water, leading to weight gain. These quick changes in weight often have no other clear reason, making them a warning sign of drug use.

Men addicted to drugs often stop caring about their appearance. They might have messy hair, unshaven faces, and wear dirty or wrinkled clothes. They might ignore daily routines like showering, brushing their teeth, and changing clothes as the addiction takes over.

Poor hygiene is another sign. They might not bathe regularly, leading to body odor and a messy appearance. Their teeth might get stained, and their overall dental health can get worse because they stop brushing. These changes can be very noticeable and concerning.

2. Bloodshot or Glazed Eyes

Bloodshot or glazed eyes are a sign of drug use in men. Drugs can dilate the blood vessels in the eyes and the redness doesn’t go away with rest or eye drops. This is a telltale sign. Drugs can also make the eyes look watery or too shiny and glazed.

These eye changes happen because drugs affect the body’s normal functioning including the eyes. For example, some drugs can increase tear production or reduce blinking and make the eyes watery. Others can cause dryness and irritation and make the eyes look red and glassy.

3. Unusual Financial Problems

Financial problems can be a sign of drug addiction in men. When someone is addicted to drugs they will spend a lot of money to support their habit. This can lead to sudden and unexplained financial woes. You’ll notice they’re always borrowing money, selling personal items, or even stealing to get the cash they need.

Men struggling with addiction could struggle to pay bills on time or keep up with other financial responsibilities. You’ll see overdue notices, unpaid debts or suddenly no money for food and rent. These financial issues arise because they’re prioritizing drugs over other essentials.

4. Increased Secrecy and Isolation

Increased secrecy and isolation can be huge warning signs of drug use in men. When someone is using drugs they become super secretive. They start hiding where they go, who they see and what they do. You might notice them making private phone calls, locking doors or lying about where they are.

Along with secrecy, they may start to withdraw from family and friends. They might avoid social events, miss family gatherings, and spend more time alone or with new friends who also use drugs. This isolation can happen because they feel ashamed, don’t want to be asked questions, or because they are spending most of their time getting and using drugs.

5. Neglecting Responsibilities

An individual addicted to drugs eventually stops going to work, school, and home because their mind is set on acquiring and using drugs.

You will notice them missing deadlines, producing poor work, or even calling in sick. Their performance will decline, and they will get fired. At school, they will skip classes, get lower grades, and show no interest in studies. They are not doing chores, paying bills, or maintaining the house at home. You will see unpaid bills, a dirty house, and no attention to daily tasks.

6. Mood Swings and Emotional Instability

Mood swings are prevalent among men who become addicted to drugs. An individual who develops an addiction often undergoes very extreme and sudden changes in mood. A drug abuser may, at times, experience sudden attacks of anger, anxiety, or depression.

They may go from very cheerful to energetic to feeling irritable and angry within a very short period. The affected person may feel extreme anxiety or nervousness or panicked for no apparent reason. It can progress to depression with great sadness, feelings of hopelessness, or a lack of interest in activities that one used to enjoy earlier.

Many of the emotional changes, however, can result directly from the effects of the drug on the brain. Some drugs work to change the chemistry of the brain; this creates an imbalance between the different mood-regulating chemicals, which in turn results in unpredictable and unstable emotions.

7. Frequent Illnesses and Health Issues

Long-term drug use weakens the user’s immune system, leading to infections and diseases. In most cases, users get sick too frequently, possibly due to colds and flu or other types of infections more than usual.

Apart from reduced immunity, drug abuse may lead to other chronic health conditions. Respiratory troubles become common among both smokers and those who inhale drugs. Drug abusers who inject substances are exposed to many infections with diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. Digestive disorders and heart problems could also be a result of prolonged usage of drugs.

These physical complications often go unattended because the user is more concerned with methods of obtaining and using drugs than with his or her health. Poor nutrition, sleep deprivation, and lack of medical attention can all contribute to a deteriorating physical condition.

8. Changes in Social Circles

Most people who become dependent on drugs associate themselves with a new set of friends who are also users. This change of friend circle occurs because they seek company where habits are shared, and the new “social circle” can help them get drugs quickly.

At the same time, they may alienate old friends and relatives. They may avoid social situations, like family gatherings or previous interests/activities. This isolation happens either due to feeling ashamed of their addiction or to prevent questions and judgments from loved ones.

This change in social behavior can sometimes be very conspicuous. A person who is extroverted and sociable may turn introverted and secretive. They tend to spend most of their time with their new friends, who are most probably drug abusers themselves, and thus provide an environment that will constantly reinforce their drug use.

Get Help Today!

Signs of Drug Addiction

If you or someone you love is addicted, get help now. Jaywalker, a men’s only rehab in Colorado, has the support and tools to help you recover. Our team is here to help men overcome addiction and get their life back. Don’t wait – call Jaywalker today and start your journey to a healthier drug-free life. Contact us to learn more about our programs and how we can help you.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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