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How to Tell If Someone Is High

To the untrained observer, it can be difficult to determine if a family member or friend is high on drugs.

When you learn the indicators of drug abuse, you’ll be better equipped to identify it when you see it in another person and know what you should do about it.

No matter what drug a person is using, look for the following symptoms of drug abuse.

  • Disorientation: When a person is on drugs, they often feel like they’re in a dream state and aren’t fully aware of their surroundings. It might be difficult for them to follow conversations.
  • Red and Runny (eyes and nose): Drug use causes bloodshot and watery eyes. Depending on the drug use, it can also cause a runny nose.
  • Unusual Actions: If your loved one is acting out of character, they might be high. This can include anything that you wouldn’t normally expect from them, like being abnormally outgoing or extra aggressive.
  • Garbled Speech: When a person has trouble stringing words together to form sentences or when they have slurred speech, there’s a chance they’re on drugs.
  • Agitation: Some drugs, like meth and cocaine, cause a person to be overly nervous. If your family member seems exceptionally agitated, they might be high.
  • Breathing Issues: All drugs interact with the respiratory system in some way. Shallow or slow breathing might be a sign of drug use.
  • Unexplained Injury: Drug abuse takes its toll on the physical body. If your friend suddenly has injuries that can’t be explained, it could be a result of drug use.
  • Smells like Drugs: 1Smoky, skunky, sweet smells that aren’t usual for your family member could indicated drug use. The same goes for overdoing it with perfume or cologne. They might be trying to mask the smell of drugs.
  • Excessive sweating/chills: Some drugs cause chills and sweating. If your friend seems to be experiencing some of these symptoms, it might be an indicator that they’re high.

With many drugs, the high can last from a few minutes to a few hours. Afterward, the user experiences some form of a crash, which typically involves a state of depression or heightened anxiety.

Signs of Being High on Marijuana

If someone is high on marijuana, they may experience  increased appetite, uncontrollable laughter, altered perception and judgment, and vision changes.

Marijuana use affects judgment and coordination, so those high on the drug may appear dizzy or have trouble walking.

Short-term memory loss is common. As the high dissipates, a person might become depressed or very sleepy. In some people, marijuana can cause anxiety or fear.1

Symptoms of a Cocaine High

When a person is high on cocaine, their pupils are generally dilated. They talk fast, have unusually high levels of energy, and extreme feelings of happiness.

Cocaine causes a rush of dopamine to flood the brain, making users experience a sense of euphoria. The effects of the high wear off in under 2 hours.

The crash from cocaine can cause restlessness, anxiety, and irritability. In extreme cases, it can cause seizures or strange behavior. Violence is also common.

The High of Heroin

The National Institute of Drug Abuse notes that when a person uses heroin, the first thing they experience is euphoria. This is followed by nausea; vomiting; and itchy, warm skin.

A person high on heroin will often have a pinkish color to their skin. If you see someone itching incessantly or vomiting, they may have just used heroin.2

After they come off the high, they may become drowsy and their mental skills may be impaired. Their breathing and heart rate also slow down.

What Not to Do When Someone Is High

When someone is high on drugs, they are not acting normally. They can put themselves in risky situations and cause harm to themselves and others. Here are some things you should avoid doing when someone is high:

  • Do not let them drive.
  • Do not start an argument with them.
  • Do not blame yourself.
  • Do not enable the person.

Researching Rehabilitation Centers

There are thousands of rehabilitation centers to choose from throughout the United States. If your loved one is battling a drug addiction, try to get them the help they need.

Start by having an honest and open discussion about their drug use and how it’s affecting their life and yours. If they refuse treatment at first, they may agree to it later, so don’t give up hope.

When your loved one is ready to choose a treatment option, contact us. We have a team of compassionate and caring representatives that can discuss all of the recovery options available.

No matter if your loved one is addicted to marijuana, meth, cocaine, heroin or any other drug, there is hope. We can help you choose the option that is just right for the situation. Make that call today.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). What Are Marijuana’s Effects.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Heroin: What Are the Immediate (Short-Term) Effects of Heroin Use?

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