Drug Use Disorder: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 3/13/2019

Medical professionals now refer to drug abuse and addiction as substance or drug use disorder. A self-destructive pattern of using a substance that leads to significant problems and distress characterizes this condition. Drug abuse is a very common problem. Typically, there is increasing tolerance to the substance being abused.

Symptoms and signs of drug abuse vary widely and depend upon the substance that is being used. Symptoms can include aggression, irritability, personality changes, mood changes including depression, slurred speech, tremors, poor physical coordination, weight changes, and problems sleeping. Other associated symptoms can include paranoia, secretive behaviors, unkempt appearance, neglecting responsibilities, and fearfulness.

Cause of drug use disorder

The cause of drug use disorder is not well understood, but it likely involves both genetic and environmental factors.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/13/2019

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