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How Do You Know If Someone Is High?

If you think a loved one is getting high on drugs or that he or she might be abusing drugs, the physical characteristics and behaviors you can watch for vary. Those with substance use disorder (SUD) often try to hide their symptoms and downplay their problem. If you’re worried that a friend or family member may be misusing drugs, look for the following warning signs and how to tell if someone is high:

Signs Of Cocaine Use & Signs Of Methamphetamine Use

Stimulant addiction includes amphetamines, methamphetamine addiction, cocaine use, and methylphenidate (Ritalin addiction). They are often used and abused in search of a “high,” or to boost energy, to improve performance at work or school, to lose weight, or to control appetite. How to tell if someone is high on stimulants?

How To Tell If Someone Is High?
How to tell if someone is high? Common physical signs include red eyes, poor muscle coordination, and delayed reaction times.
How To Tell If Someone Is High

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Signs and symptoms [1] of recent use can include:

  • A feeling of exhilaration and excess confidence
  • Increased alertness
  • Increased energy and restlessness
  • Behavior changes or aggression
  • Rapid or rambling speech
  • Dilated pupils
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Irritability or changes in mood
  • Changes in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Nausea or vomiting with weight loss
  • Impaired judgment
  • Nasal congestion and damage to the mucous membrane of the nose (if snorting drugs)
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Depression as the drug wears off

Signs Of Use Of Alcohol

How to tell if someone is high on alcohol? Examples: Beer, wine, mixed drinks

  • Underage drinking and/or binge drinking
  • Needing greater quantities of alcohol to achieve the desired effects or to function “normally”
  • Drinking more alcohol to get rid of or ease alcohol withdrawal symptoms
  • Attempts to stop or limit drinking are unsuccessful
  • An extensive amount of time is needed to recover from the effects of alcohol
  • Spending lots of time thinking about the next drink
  • Drinking alone or trying to hide one’s drinking patterns
  • Discontinuing use causes withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, mood swings, irritability, tremors, inability to sleep, and overall sickness
  • Displaying anger when questioned about one’s drinking patterns
  • Acting as if drinking is more important than one’s friends and family; isolating oneself from one’s social support system
  • Becoming anxious or stressed if a social gathering does not include alcohol
  • Continuing to drink regardless of the negative physical or psychological difficulties
  • Drinking frequently or in excess may include alcohol blackouts when drinking
  • Making excuses to continue to drink and/or drinking at unacceptable times or places [2]

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Signs Of Heroin Use & Signs Of Abuse Of Opioids

Opioids are narcotic, painkilling drugs derived from opium or made synthetically. This class of drugs includes heroin, morphine, codeine, methadone, and oxycodone. Some individuals who have opioid addiction over a long period of time may need physician-prescribed temporary or long-term drug substitution during treatment. How to tell if someone is high on opioids? [3]

How To Tell If Someone Is High?
How to tell if someone is high? In general, the duration of the high will depend on the user’s level of tolerance, the particular potency of the drug, and the way the drug was consumed.

Signs and symptoms of narcotic use and dependence can include:

  • Euphoria or feeling “high”
  • Reduced sense of pain
  • Drowsiness or sedation
  • Slurred speech
  • Problems with attention and memory
  • Constricted pupils
  • Lack of awareness or inattention to surrounding people and things
  • Problems with coordination
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Sweaty, clammy skin
  • Constipation
  • Runny nose or nose sores (if snorting drugs)
  • Needle marks (if injecting drugs)

What Not To Do When Someone Is High?

A substance abuse problem is a chronic disease that requires lifestyle adjustments and long-term treatment, like diabetes or high blood pressure. Even relapse can be a normal part of the process—not a sign of failure, but a sign that the treatment needs to be adjusted. With good care, people who have substance use disorders can live healthy, productive lives. 

It’s understandable to want to do everything you can to help someone you love. But ultimately, enabling is not helpful to either party. Enabling a loved one with substance use disorder instead of supporting them in healthy ways might result in:

  • Self-destructive behavior in the person with substance use disorder
  • Disempowerment of both parties
  • A codependent dynamic that could damage the relationship
  • Feeling drained

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How To Help Your Loved One Seek Treatment?

Persistence is key. In due time, you can get your loved one who is struggling the help they need and deserve. Here are 8 tips [4] for getting your loved one into a drug and alcohol treatment program:

  1. Find The Right Time To Talk

Knowing how to tell if someone is high increases your chances of getting through to your loved ones; by trying to talk to them when they are as sober as possible. You want them to be able to think clearly about your conversation and to be able to react in a calm manner. Talking to someone when they are intoxicated may go poorly or they might even forget the conversation.

  1. Be Intentional With What You Say

Words have power and they can either drive someone away or lead to a breakthrough. Before you even try sparking a conversation or leading an intervention, make sure that everyone involved thinks long and hard about the words they use. Rehearse what you have to say and how you plan on saying it. If things start to take a negative turn, change the subject and resist any urge you may have to fight or argue.  

  1. Understand the Recovery Process

Research addiction treatment so that you can speak intelligently about what treatment encompasses and what the different options are. Do you know what to expect from cocaine detox or how alcohol withdrawal symptoms are managed? Look into different types of treatment and find a few different centers that you can present as options to your loved one. Consider the benefits of a holistic program that offers alternative addiction treatment.

  1. Become a Part of the Process

Get involved and let your loved one know that where possible, you will be by their side. Many treatment facilities include family therapy as a part of their program. In family therapy, you all can work through any underlying issues, as well as build better communication.

You can also find an open Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting that you can attend together. Some people prefer to attend group support meetings without their families so that they can speak more openly, but others appreciate the familiar company. Don’t be afraid to ask if they want your company and then respect the decision.

  1. Set and Maintain Boundaries

There is a fine line between supporting and enabling. Make it clear that rehab and recovery mean they are expected to dedicate a certain amount of time to treatment programming. Offer support in the form of verbal affirmations, but make sure they contribute to their recovery in ways more than just showing up. This will help your loved ones help themselves. They will be forced to take their recovery seriously as well as take some of the pressure and stress off of you. 

  1. Let Them Decide to Identify as an Addict

Don’t call your loved one an addict unless they have already identified themselves in this manner. It is up to the individual to designate how they identify. Additionally, saying “a person with an addiction” instead of “an addict” supports that they are more than their addiction and that this part of their life does not define their entire being.

  1. Be Patient 

How to tell if someone is high and how to stop it? Becoming an addict doesn’t happen overnight and neither does recovery. Every step of this journey is going to be a process. Getting sober takes time and staying sober does not often happen on the first try. There will be good days and bad, but consistency in your patience, love, and support will go a long way. This brings us to the last tip for getting your loved one into a drug and alcohol treatment program.

  1. Don’t Give Up

An intervention does not always guarantee admission to a treatment program. If your first conversation doesn’t appear to change anything, you can never know for sure the effect it will have in their head. It might take 2 or 20 attempts before you make a breakthrough and even once your loved one does enter a drug and alcohol treatment program, this does not guarantee long-term sobriety. Relapse is always a possibility. There may be times when your loved ones will want to give up themselves and they may need you to keep trying for the both of you. Don’t give up.

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Stage An Intervention

An intervention is an organized confrontation with a loved one about their drug or alcohol addiction. It can involve anyone (family, friends, coworkers) who has a relationship with the individual. They then use the opportunity to express how the person’s addiction has affected them. An intervention is not a form of addiction treatment but often a means of convincing a drug or alcohol addict to seek treatment from a rehab facility. 

Your We Level Up addiction services counselor will walk you through the planning process to minimize the possibility of negative outcomes. Here are a few recommendations on how to do an intervention.

How To Tell If Someone Is High?
How to tell if someone is high? If you’re suspecting someone is struggling with addiction, IT’S BETTER TO SEEK HELP AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE.
  • Guilt trips aren’t welcome here. The purpose is not to shame an addict but to open their eyes to how they have harmed themselves and others.
  • Do not yell. This can make them feel attacked and put them on the defensive.
  • Be mindful of the time and setting. Make this confrontation as non-stressful as possible and avoid doing it at a time when their emotions are already volatile (like after a breakup or getting fired) or somewhere that they’ll be distracted or intimidated.
  • Be as specific as possible. It’s recommended that each participant has an itemized list of grievances that are short and to the point. 
  • Write down speaking points in advance. Doing so when you are calm can help prevent things from being said harshly in the heat of the moment.

Most importantly for you or your loved one, working with a professional interventionist helps take the edge off of confronting an addicted individual. Not only will you have an expert to guide you through the process of planning the intervention event and coordinating an addiction treatment center, but you will also have a moderator to make sure the event itself goes smoothly, supporting loved ones as well. Sometimes simply having that neutral person in the room is all you need to find common ground and save a life before it’s too late.

Search Treatment For Your Loved One

How to tell if someone is high? If you’re suspecting your loved one might be abusing drugs, it’s essential that you try to get them help. And although it can be tough to come to terms with the fact that someone you love is struggling with addiction, it can save their life. You may even resort to denial and just look the other way when you see the warning signs. There’s also a chance that you have no idea how to get your loved ones the help that they need, which is common. One of the best ways to motivate your loved one to begin the road to recovery is through an intervention like the one we’ve discussed here.

Are you looking for any tips on how to tell if someone is high? This is a sign to seek help as early as possible for your loved one. We Level Up counselors understand and can make a drug addiction therapy recommendation or dual diagnosis treatment best suited to your needs. You may call We Level Up today to speak with a treatment specialist to answer any of your drug-related questions.

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