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Know the SIGNS

The Discovery Process

If you have concerns that a friend or loved one has become a victim of substance dependence, please refer to the following signs/behaviors to help identify addiction:

  1. Problems in school (i.e., missing classes, disinterest in school, work or activities, drop in grades).
  2. Health issues (i.e., inability to sleep, loss of appetite, lack of energy and motivation, nausea, vomiting, excessive sweating, irregular heartbeat).
  3. Cold, sweaty palms, shakiness.
  4. Red, watery eyes; pupils larger or smaller than normal.
  5. Runny nose or frequent nose running.
  6. Frequent jaw twisting or teeth grinding.
  7. Poor coordination, hand tremors, forgetfulness.
  8. Puffy face, blushing or paleness.
  9. Neglected appearances (i.e., lack of interest in clothes, grooming).
  10. Behavioral changes (i.e., change in attitude, not allowing family in their personal space, dishonesty, paranoia).
  11. Spending money (i.e., sudden requests for money without explanation or evidence of stolen money).
  12. Change in activities or hobbies.
  13. Overuse of cell phones (buying their next fix or dealing to support their next fix)
  14. Use of Xanax (to stay calm between heroin fixes)


– According to the American Council for Drug Education, an affiliate of Phoenix House.

  • Marijuana: Glassy, red eyes; loud talking and inappropriate laughter followed by sleepiness; a sweet burnt scent; loss of interest, motivation; weight gain or loss.
  • Alcohol: Clumsiness; difficulty walking; slurred speech; sleepiness; poor judgment; dilated pupils.
  • Cocaine, Crack, Meth and Other Stimulants: Hyperactivity; euphoria; irritability; anxiety; excessive talking followed by depression or excessive sleeping at odd times; going long periods of time without eating or sleeping; dilated pupils; weight loss; dry mouth and nose.
  • Heroin: Needle marks; sleeping at unusual times; sweating; vomiting; coughing and sniffling; twitching; loss of appetite; contracted pupils; no response of pupils to light.
  • Depressants (including barbiturates and tranquilizers): Seems drunk as if from alcohol, but without the associated odor of alcohol; difficulty concentrating; clumsiness; poor judgment; slurred speech; sleepiness; contracted pupils.
  • Inhalants (Glues, aerosols, and vapors): Watery eyes; impaired vision, memory and thought; secretions from the nose or rashes around the nose and mouth; headaches and nausea; appearance of intoxication; drowsiness; poor muscle control; anxiety; irritability.
  • Hallucinogens: Dilated pupils; bizarre and irrational behavior including paranoia, aggression, hallucinations; mood swings; detachment from people; absorption with self or other objects, slurred speech; confusion.


Codependency is defined as a psychological condition or a relationship in which someone is in an unhappy and unhealthy relationship that involves living with or providing care for another person who is typically affected by a pathological condition (such as drug addiction or alcohol abuse). Codependent individuals are emotionally dependent on another person at the expense of their own health and quality of life, however this type of behavior is reversible. Please refer to the following signs/behaviors to identify co-dependency:

  • Unhealthy dependence on relationships
  • Difficulty communicating, making decisions or identifying feelings
  • Denial
  • Defensiveness
  • Preoccupation of others’ recovery
  • Compulsive/impulsive behaviors
  • Poor communication
  • Withdrawal/isolation
  • Irritability
  • Hopelessness/despair
  • Self-pity and poor self esteem
  • Fears of abandonment
  • Self-sacrifice
  • Problems with intimacy
  • Poor boundaries
  • People-pleasing

Did you know?

  • The number of heroin users has nearly  doubled since 2007.
  • Half of all first-time heroin users are under 26 years old.
  • 2011: In Ocean County, we had 55 overdose deaths (mostly from heroin).
  • 2012: In Ocean County, we had 53 overdose deaths (mostly from heroin).
  • 2013: In Ocean County (as of August 1),  we had 75 overdose deaths.
  • 60% of fatal overdoses were between the ages of 20-26 years old. (Reference: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

Behind all of these numbers are
countless stories of personal loss and heartbreak. Don’t be another statistic.

for Chemical Dependency

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of Co-Dependency

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