How to Tell if Someone is High

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If you’re not aware of what to look out for, it can be challenging to tell if someone is high. Learning some of the most common markers of drug use will help you to establish whether someone is under the influence.

Alcohol, prescription medications, and illicit narcotics trigger different symptoms of use. Today’s guide will help you to pinpoint intoxication and substance abuse in a loved one more accurately.

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Before we break down the intoxicating effects of some of the most common addictive substances, what does it feel like to be high on drugs?

How Can You Tell If Someone Is High?

How to know if someone is high depends largely on the substance used. Below, we will briefly highlight some of the most pronounced effects of being high on:

  1. Marijuana
  2. Cocaine
  3. Heroin
  4. Meth
  5. Alcohol

Regardless of the substance of abuse, these are some common markers of being high: 

  • Altered sensory perception.
  • Positive effects on mood.
  • Physical tingling sensations.
  • Intense euphoria.

If you suspect that a loved one has developed an addiction, look out for the following red flags? 

  • Poor performance at work or school.
  • Chronic absenteeism.
  • Drop in personal hygiene standards.
  • Altered appearance.
  • Social withdrawal and isolation.
  • Increased desire for privacy.
  • Decreased energy levels.
  • Problems in closest relationships.
  • Financial stress.
  • Appetite changes and weight loss or weight gain.
  • Poor or uneven skin tone.
  • Bloodshot eyes.
  • Denial when confronted about substance abuse.
An image of a woman showing signs indicating how to tell in someone is high

How to Determine If Someone Is High

All addictive substances bring about different highs, so we’ll now explore the effects of some of the most abused drugs in the United States.

1) How To Tell If Someone Is High on Marijuana

Smoking or ingesting marijuana slows the transmission of messages between the brain and the cells in your body. Using the drug is perhaps most strongly associated with the calming and relaxing effects it triggers. 

The most noticeable signs of marijuana use include: 

  • Red, bloodshot eyes.
  • Dulled reflexes and reactions.
  • Abrupt mood shifts.
  • Panic.
  • Anxiety.
  • Increased appetite (munchies).

The smell of marijuana is unique, sometimes described as being skunk-like. Smelling this scent on a loved one may indicate that they have been exposed to marijuana. 

While once considered non-addictive, research now shows that chronic and long-term use of marijuana can lead to the development of addiction in the form of marijuana use disorder (also known as cannabis use disorder). Studies suggest that 30% of those who use marijuana heavily may develop an addiction. 

If you feel that marijuana use is becoming a priority in your loved one’s life, start a conversation with them about addiction recovery as an alternative to getting high every day. 

2) How To Tell If Someone Is High on Cocaine

Cocaine is a potent stimulant narcotic. Using this drug speeds up the body. Taking cocaine in any form causes heart rate to increase. The drug can also induce shaking and twitching. The person using cocaine will appear happy and excitable. 

Using this illicit narcotic can easily affect mood. When feelings of happiness, euphoria, and enthusiasm dissipate, cocaine users may feel nervous, angry, and paranoid. The cocaine high is often followed by a cocaine crash or comedown. Someone who has abused cocaine may feel tired and unhappy for a few days in the aftermath. Cocaine use can also easily lead to an overdose.

Those who snort cocaine are prone to frequent nosebleeds. They may also appear to have a cold with a persistently runny nose. 

If your loved one injects cocaine, you may notice track marks on their arms. Track marks is an expression used for the scars left by a needle repeatedly entering the same vein. 

Cocaine is among the costliest of drugs, so many people abusing this substance will experience financial problems as a result. 

One of the most powerful stimulants, cocaine is highly addictive. Like all addictions, cocaine addiction is a progressive and relapsing brain condition. If your loved one is using this drug, help connect them with the professional treatment they need. 

3) How To Tell If Someone Is High on Heroin

Heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid that induces feelings of happiness and comfort as well as a numbness throughout the body. Those who are high on heroin may feel like the world around them has slowed down. 

If a loved one has used an opioid like heroin, they may move and think slowly. They may feel extremely sleepy and as if they dreaming. 

The physical signs of heroin abuse include: 

  • Pinprick pupils.
  • Track marks.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Insomnia.
  • Weight loss.
  • Nervousness.
  • Anxiety.

Tolerance and dependence rapidly form if heroin is used repeatedly. This can quickly and easily bring on addiction in the form of opioid use disorder. Although there is no cure for opioid use disorder, the condition responds favorably to medication-assisted treatment delivered in combination with psychotherapy. 

4) How To Tell If Someone Is High on Meth

Meth, an abbreviation for methamphetamine, is another potent stimulant. Using this drug will increase breathing rate and raise blood pressure levels. 

Look out for the following signs of meth abuse

  • Hyperactivity.
  • Moving around frequently.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Insomnia.
  • Sores on skin.
  • Burns on lips or fingers.
  • Dental problems (meth mouth).
  • Mood swings.
  • Angry or violent outbursts.

5) How To Tell If Someone Is High on Alcohol

Alcohol is a CNS (central nervous system) depressant and the most abused addictive substance in the United States. 

The most common effects of the alcohol high include: 

  • Appearing relaxed and sleepy.
  • Laughing frequently.
  • Talking loudly.
  • Impaired motor coordination.
  • Unsteady gait.

In higher doses, alcohol’s effects can include vomiting, blacking out, and violent outbursts. 

With 28 million U.S. adults diagnosed with alcohol use disorder (alcoholism), help your loved one to be among the 10% who engage with professional addiction treatment to kickstart their recovery.

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Help a Loved One Get the Addiction Treatment They Need at California Detox

If you have a loved one suffering from a substance use disorder (drug addiction), you may find that they are resistant to engaging with treatment. You may even find that they deny the existence of a problem. If so, you may need to consider staging an intervention

Once you convince your friend or family member that structured inpatient or outpatient treatment is the optimum route to recovery, reach out to California Detox for affordable luxury drug rehab in Orange County. 

We provide treatment at all levels on ASAM’s continuum of care. Choose from the following programs depending on the severity of your loved one’s addiction: 

  • Medically supervised detoxification
  • Inpatient program (residential rehab)
  • Outpatient program
  • IOP (intensive outpatient program)
  • Virtual IOP (remote rehab)
  • Dual diagnosis program (for addictions with co-occurring mental health disorders)

If your loved one is physically dependent on alcohol, prescription medications, or illegal drugs, they can access medications and around-the-clock emotional and clinical care. This will streamline the process of detox and withdrawal, stabilizing your loved one for ongoing drug addiction treatment. 

Once your loved one has detoxed over the course of a week or so, they can transition directly into one of the programs highlighted above. All California Detox treatment programs offer access to these services and interventions: 

  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Psychotherapy (CBT and DBT)
  • Holistic therapy

Reach out to our friendly admissions team today for immediate assistance in getting your friend or family member the addiction treatment they need. Call 949.390.5377 today.


If someone is high on meth, they may appear hyperactive and talkative. Their mood will be lifted during the meth high, and this will shift to a depressed mood when the high subsides. You may also notice that their movements are jerky and twitchy with rapid eye movements. The person may appear agitated.
When someone is high on cocaine, the effects are similar to those of meth and other stimulants. Self-confidence is boosted. The person becomes more talkative. Their energy levels will be significantly increased, and sleep patterns disrupted. Using cocaine diminishes appetite. You may notice white residue around the person’s nostrils if they snorted cocaine.


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