WHO, also known as The World Health Organization, has reported that about 270 million people have fallen into drug abuse in the previous year. However, these are only the cases that have been reported. 

It’s difficult to know whether a close friend or a loved one is dealing with drug abuse.

If you have high suspicions that someone close to you might be falling into drug addiction, you must remain observant and watch out for any signs, such as dilated pupils, which is one of the most common symptoms.

Keep reading to find out what drugs cause dilated pupils and what you can do to help your loved one. 

Why Do Pupils Dilate?

Mydriasis, or as we know it, dilation of the pupils, is when the black center of the eye, or the iris, expands and diminishes. The reason behind its reaction has to do with factors such as light, distance, or even emotion. For example, your pupils will expand whenever it’s dark in order to let in more light and allow you to see clearer. 

Your pupils can also dilate due to chemical reactions in your brain caused by emotions.

When it comes to powerful feelings such as love or hatred, your pupils tend to expand whenever you think of someone who makes you feel that way. It’s an involuntary action or response, and it’s something you cannot control. 

Other chemical reactions in your brain can be caused by specific drugs, mainly by psychoactive stimulants. Hence, it is a common symptom of substance abuse. 

What Drugs Cause Dilated Pupils?

There are various types of drugs, legal and illegal, that cause pupils to dilate due to their effect on the brain’s neurotransmitters. Some illegal drugs include:

  • Ecstasy
  • LSD
  • Cocaine
  • Crack Cocaine
  • MDMA
  • Crystal Meth
  • Ketamine
  • Mescaline

People may also become addicted to prescribed or over-the-counter (OTC) medication. Some of these are:

  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Stimulants
  • Bath salts

Bear in mind that if your loved one has started taking a new treatment due to a health condition, having dilated pupils might be a normal side effect of the new medication. So, there are other signs of drug abuse you should look out for if you’re suspicious. 

Other Signs of Drug Abuse

Aside from a dilated pupil, there are other signs of drug abuse you should keep in mind if you’re suspicious of your loved one. The most common side effects of substance abuse are:

  • Slurred speech or not speaking properly
  • Depression 
  • Isolation
  • Sleep deprivation or insomnia
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sudden change in grooming habits
  • Sudden and drastic weight loss or gain
  • Paranoia

Drugs have different effects on people, and not everyone experiences the same symptoms. Yet, it’s very likely that if your loved one is abusing drugs, they’ll experience two or more of the side effects mentioned above apart from dilated pupils. 

How to Help Your Loved One

Helping a loved one with drug abuse can be challenging and, no doubt, frightening. Just remember that you must remain calm and approach the situation without panicking. These are the steps you must take to help your friend. 

Confront the Situation

Approach your loved one with love and concern. You want to show them that you’re worried and that your intentions are merely to help, not judge or criticize. 

Also, keep in mind that your loved one might become in denial and struggle to admit they have a problem with addiction. Chances are, they will deny or turn down your helpful attempts, but that does not mean you must give up.

Don’t wait until the situation gets worse because the longer you wait, the more difficult it’ll be for your loved one to receive help.

Don’t Forget About Yourself

If you don’t remain calm, then the situation can worsen and put more pressure and stress on you than necessary. Have a good support group with you, and make sure you have somebody who can listen to you and make you feel less overwhelmed. 

It’s Not Your Fault

It’s natural to blame yourself for allowing a loved one to become addicted. But, in no way is it true. You are not the reason your loved one has fallen into addiction or doesn’t want to get help. 

At the end of the day, a loved one cannot receive help for their problem if they are not willing to get help. If they don’t admit they want to change, then there’s nothing you can do. Forcing them to get help shouldn’t be an option, and sadly, your loved one must face the responsibility for their own actions. 


A good and caring support group of friends and family might be enough to form an intervention and help your loved one. However, in some cases, a professional intervention might be needed.

Professional interventionists are certified and know how to deal with these tough situations, not just helping the addict but helping the friends and family involved. 

Seek Help For Your Loved One

Knowing the different signs of drug abuse and what drugs cause dilated pupils can help you take the next step in helping your loved one. There’s no need to confront the situation alone. 

At Healthy Life Recovery, we have an excellent staff of professionals who are ready to help you and your loved one. Our drug and alcohol rehab center in San Diego provides addiction and mental health treatment. Get one step closer to helping your loved one by contacting us today!

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