When a person suffers from addiction, it can hard – sometimes impossible – for them to realize that they have a problem. It can take the help of a close friend or family member to aid them in realizing the need for change. But sometimes it’s just as hard for close friends and family to spot the signs of drug addiction. If you suspect someone you love is hiding a substance addiction, there are ten common signs you can look for.
Denial is the signature of addiction; it is one of the most common signs. AlcoholRehab.com defines denial as the “refusal to admit the truth or reality.” The high that accompanies substance abuse can blind drug users and alcoholics to the truth of their addiction. In most cases, they have little to no insight regarding their personal condition.
Sometimes addicts use denial as a coping mechanism, a way of handling reality while protecting their ego. In the case of an addict, denial is a detrimental coping mechanism that can stop them from ever recovering.
#2: Changes in Personal Items
Addicts often become obsessed with the substance they are abusing. As is common with obsessions, those affected tend to collect items that feed the obsession. One of the most obvious outward signs of addiction is a change in personal items. You might notice a sudden interest or increase in drug paraphernalia, which can include things like empty bottles and rolling papers to pipes and bongs.
As their addiction grows, the addict might begin to sell their previously prized possessions. The money they make is then funneled into buying substances and personal items to fuel their habit.
#3: Mood Swings
Drugs and alcohol are stimulants and depressants. They alter the user’s emotional state and affect how the brain operates. As a result, they can be responsible for unexplained mood swings. But that’s not all they do. Depression, hostility, and aggression can also arise.
As a person’s addiction increases, mood swings will intensify. They can hit at random, unexplainable times and not level out until their next dose. The changes in the brain behind these mood changes can quickly lead to poor decision making and even criminal behavior.
#4: Changes in Physical Appearance
As an individual’s addiction grows, marked changes in their physical appearance can manifest. Some types of drugs can cause a person to become undernourished as they lose their appetite or would rather use instead eating; cocaine, crystal meth, and heroin can all cause this. Other drugs, like marijuana, can cause weight gain.
Most addicts develop irritating and redness in the eyes, face, and skin thanks to their habit. An odor is usually associated with drug use, and it can present on clothing or the skin. Changes in physical appearance and going to extra length to hide changes, like excessive use of air fresheners, colognes, or perfumes, can all indicate a developing addiction.
#5: Increase In or Appearance of Health Problems
Continued and long-term drug use takes a marked toll on the body. Signs of problems begin to manifest as an increase in or appearance of health problems. Some of the most common signs of drug use include:
- Irregular sleeping patterns
- Memory loss
- Dry mouth
- Persistent illness
The longer a user’s addiction goes untreated, the more pronounced and dramatic symptoms become. For example, tooth and gum decay can become a noticeable problem, odd sores can develop, and unusual cuts and bruises can appear.
#6: Mental Health Issues
Drugs change how the brain operates, especially how it reacts to dopamine. These chemical changes can induce any number of mental health issues. Addicts can begin to hear voices, lose the ability to focus, cause compulsive actions, and be the trigger for paranoia. Other mental health issues that can arise include anxiety and depression.
Addicts often live in their own little world. They will avoid social situations because their priority is ensuring they get their next fix. But this is just one type of withdrawal they wrestle with. As the effects of the drug wear off, they experience drug withdrawal symptoms. They usually strive to keep their habit secret, which is why they will disappear for hours as or before withdrawal begins to hit.
#8: New and Unhealthy Relationships
Does your friend have new friends who they won’t speak about or refuse to introduce anyone to? Have they suddenly become flirtatious or promiscuous, or have they perhaps abruptly broken off relationships with close friends or family? All of these are signs of addiction. The development of new and unhealthy relationships with people who mirror their mood swings is also a sign of a growing addiction.
#9: Work or School Problems
To an addict, the substance they’re hooked on is the most important thing in their life. As a result, their performance at work or at school can begin to decline. In some cases, they will quit or be fired because feeding their addiction outweighs going to work and performing well. Students coping with addiction might flunk out of the grade or college thanks to an affair with drugs or alcohol.
#10: Criminal Behavior
The fact is drug and alcohol addictions are expensive habits. As the addiction takes over, the user can grow desperate for cash to buy more of their favorite substance. Their actions can quickly grow criminal, including theft, selling or transporting drugs, and other crimes that can easily land the user in trouble with the law or in jail.
The Importance of Intervention
Some 2.3 million people over the age of 11 are abusing alcohol or drugs today. Sadly, only about 2.6 million get the help they need. The importance of intervention cannot be underestimated. If you have reason to believe someone you care for is abusing a substance, think about intervening today.
Not sure where to start? That’s okay. You are not alone. Why not talk to an expert today? Not only can professionals assist you through the intervention process, they can also provide an evaluation to determine exactly what you loved one needs for a successful recovery.