Addiction is a life-altering disease that can play tricks on both the afflicted and their loved ones. While it doesn’t develop overnight, there are signs and symptoms that people struggling with drugs develop that can help tip you off.
Most people start using drugs or alcohol on a recreational basis, and not all of them become addicted. Recent research suggests that there are hereditary factors at play for people who progress to an addiction disorder. As the substance use disorder evolves, an addicted person will need to use more and more to “feel normal.” Eventually, that person will get high or drunk to avoid the negative consequences of using, such as physical withdrawal symptoms and emotions such as guilt and self-loathing. However, as they act to prevent these consequences, other problems will crop up in their place.
Addiction can cause problems with health, relationships, careers, finances and so much more. Because the draw of the person’s substance of choice can be powerful, they begin to change their behavior. It isn’t uncommon at all for people suffering from addiction; after all, their brain and body have changed in a way that makes them seek a drug compulsively. If your loved one is addicted to drugs, they will not be able to quit using for a significant period. Addiction takes away the ability to choose to quit using, and that’s why professional help is recommended for a person who wants to stop using.
Be aware that people who are addicted to substances will try to hide their behavior. A lot of loved ones describe wanting to “kick themselves” because they didn’t notice there was a problem until it was “too late.” Your loved one’s addiction isn’t your fault, and there is nothing you could have done to prevent their addiction. Remember, addiction is a brain disorder that is progressive and causes issues on multiple fronts.
Here are some warning signs, however, that you should look out for if you suspect your loved one has an addictive disorder. Be aware that some symptoms are also indicative of a mental health disorder. (If you suspect a mental health disorder, there is help available for that, as well. Don’t stay silent.)
Common signs of a substance use disorder:
- Frequent mood changes
- A change in outlook/attitudes in life
- Less motivation
- No longer enjoys hobbies or interests
- Drug paraphernalia such as lighters, rolling papers, pill choppers
- Drug residue in baggies or pill bottles
- New friends that they don’t bring home
- Poor work or school performance
- Doctor shopping or multiple prescriptions for the same drug
- Sudden weight loss or gain
- Secretive behavior, such as becoming defensive about their plans for the night
- A sudden or unexplained change in finances.
- Maxing out credit cards or bouncing checks
- Lying about various things such as money, where they’re going, etc.
- Job loss
- Arrests involving alcohol or drugs
- Stealing or manipulating loved ones for money
- Always having “emergencies” or lots of unexplained “drama”
- Strange body odors (from smoke, etc.)
- Shaky hands, bloodshot eyes, nodding out (falling asleep suddenly)
- Frequently slurring words
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Volatile, angry, frequent outbursts
- Denial and minimizing drug/alcohol use
These are just a few behaviors that can illustrate a person is addicted to a substance. It’s hard to confront a loved one when you can see that they’re changing or spiralizing out of control in front of your eyes. Many people who become addicted to drugs are in denial about it. This means that even with many negative consequences, including arrests or even overdoses, they can’t admit or believe that the problem is the substance abuse itself.
If your loved one has changed a lot in a relatively short time period, you may suspect drug use or addiction. The most natural thing to do is ask them what’s going on – but be prepared for defensiveness or denial. If your loved one is in denial, they may try to bring you into that denial as well. If you know something is wrong, trust your instincts.
You’re not alone if you care about somebody battling addiction, and there are many resources available to families struggling with this disease. Get help for yourself and learn the best course of action. You may want to stage an intervention or make an appointment with a therapist to decide your next move.
You can call us to learn more about your options at (619) 363-4767. We can help you (or your loved one) chart a path to recovery and get into treatment as soon as possible. Everyone deserves a chance at recovery, and no one has to “hit bottom” to find success in a new way of life. Please contact us today to learn more!