When an individual does drugs, others can often tell because they display several noticeable signs. These signs can be physical, like changes in weight, behavioral, such as isolating one's self or engaging in risky behavior, or psychological, like consistent depression or irritation.
One of the most common physical signs that a person may be abusing drugs is having dilated pupils. Along with alerting others that an individual may be struggling with substance abuse, dilated pupils can also help reveal what specific drug they are using. Learn what drugs make eyes dilate with Diamond House Detox.
Your pupils, or the small black dots in the center of your eye, change sizes based on the amount of light entering your eyes. By regulating the light, your pupils help you focus and maintain better vision in a range of lighting conditions. Factors such as your iris — the colored part of your eye — and emotions can influence the size of your pupils, with the muscles of the iris controlling dilation. Pupil dilation is most commonly caused by chemical changes.
Chemical changes can include medications as well as illicit drugs. When these drugs are taken, they can affect either the parasympathetic or sympathetic nervous system. Most drugs that cause pupil dilation are anticholinergic. That means they block neurotransmitters, mostly affecting the parasympathetic nervous system. These changes are generally much more drastic and appear despite changes in light compared to natural dilation changes, which is why pupil dilation and constriction are among the go-to symptoms people look for when they suspect someone is using drugs.
Dilated pupils are one way that eyes can react to drugs or chemicals in the body. Certain drug use can also present as:
When someone's eyes stop reacting to light as they should normally, it can be a sign there is something going on, whether that's drug use or another medical condition. If you notice someone you love has pupils that are smaller or larger than normal, or pupils that are uneven, it may be time to talk to them and see if they are using drugs that cause pupils to dilate.
So, what drugs are most likely to make your pupils look big?
Several different types of drugs — anticholinergics and mydriatics, whether illegal or legal — can dilate pupils and indicate to friends, family members and authorities that an individual may be under the influence or misusing a specific substance.
While various drugs, especially psychotropic stimulants, can cause the pupils to dilate, 10 of the most common drugs that can trigger this include:
Note that the abnormal dilation of pupils is not necessarily an indicator that someone is misusing drugs, particularly if they are on legal prescriptions. However, if you are close enough with someone to discuss their personal medical history and you notice their dilated pupils coincide with other symptoms of drugs, consider opening a dialogue with them and showing them you're here to support them in any way you can.
Some common indicators of drug usage include:
If you notice these signs at the same time someone has abnormal pupil size, it could be an indication they may be using drugs or taking medication in a way that's inconsistent with prescription use.
At Diamond House Detox, we've worked with many concerned individuals who think someone they know is using drugs that cause eyes to dilate, along with other symptoms. Take a look at some of the most common questions we answer and see if they can help you better understand where to go from here.
While the 10 drugs listed above account for many reported changes in pupil dilation, there are a number of other medications that can make the eyes dilate. If someone suddenly starts exhibiting dilated pupils, find out if they've recently started taking one of these medications before considering illicit drug use:
You may have noticed our list of drugs that dilate pupils is missing some of the most common drugs people use, such as alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. While both alcohol and caffeine have been noted to dilate pupils when consumed in excess, vaping or smoking cigarettes can have the opposite effect, constricting the pupils and causing what some know as “pinpoint pupils.”
It can. Adderall is a common prescription medication that's a mix of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine and is considered a stimulant helpful in the treatment of ADHD and similar conditions. It causes mydriasis, where the iris muscles relax and dilate the pupils.
If someone you love is using drugs, it can be challenging to know how to talk to them about it. Many people who misuse drugs are ashamed or feel guilty about doing so and, therefore, are likely to change the topic or lash out when it comes up in conversation. Still, confronting them can save their life and give them a chance to get the support they need — even if they don't recognize it themselves. If you're planning on talking to someone about their drug use, try to:
Dilated or constricted pupils are often minor and lesser-noticed symptoms compared to other signs of substance use. Addiction can bring with it lifelong struggles that persist long after a person stops using substances, but the likelihood and severity of these issues can lessen the sooner you or your loved one finds treatment.
Diamond House Detox is a rehab facility in Sacramento, CA, that specializes in inpatient treatment, outpatient services, detoxing from drugs and dual diagnosis care. Our medical staff knows how to work with you on your addiction and find a path to recovery that works for your specific situation.
Addiction is a complex and ever-changing field, and our treatment options reflect that. Each client who comes to us for treatment gets their own personalized treatment plan with input from our therapists and psychiatric professionals. We welcome our clients and those who love them to learn as much as possible about every step of our process to enhance understanding and encourage collaboration. Recovery is a long path, but walking it with a strong support network makes it much easier to navigate.
When a client comes to Diamond House Detox, they'll go through an intake process that helps us determine where to get started and the level of treatment necessary for their particular addiction. They will likely go through:
Here at Diamond House Detox, we provide individualized care with a focus on co-occurring disorders in our home-like environment. No matter the substance, we can help you start the process of recovery. With treatments based on your needs, you'll have the dedicated care and aftercare plan you require to move forward with your life — whether it's a 7- to 10-day detox or up to 30 days of intensive inpatient recovery.