Addiction is destructive, yet, often hides in plain sight. Before you are able to help a loved one suffering from an addictive disorder you must recognize some signs of addiction. While not comprehensive, there are some indications that may warrant a closer look at a potential problem. It can be challenging for those struggling with addiction to admit that they have a problem but your recognition of the problem may facilitate their admission, thus facilitating steps towards their recovery and family services for addiction.
When someone you love has an addiction, it is crucial for you to understand the line between enabling their destructive behavior and guiding them into the appropriate treatment center or resources; but you have to recognize that an issue exists before any support can be provided.
The positive news is that there is help available for your loved one and for you; in your supportive role. The first step, however, is recognizing the indications and behavioral patterns that are present with substance abuse. This guide will help you to recognize ten indications that someone you love may struggle with addiction. Your recognition of the problem combined with an offer of support can help them make the crucial first step towards a better life. Here are 10 Signs of Addiction: Is your Loved One Struggling with Alcohol or Drug Addiction
1. Changes in Sleeping Patterns
Repeated days of sleeping in, or changes in the hours someone sleeps, is a sign that addiction may be taking hold. One or two days may be nothing to cause concern, but a week or more of sleeping in, sleeping all day, being awake for days, or sleeping at an opposite time than normal can be signs someone you love has begun to suffer from active addiction.
2. Changes in Eating Patterns
Changes in eating patterns can be present in people who are addicted to substances such as drugs and alcohol. Most people eat a semi-routine diet, but once addiction takes hold, the person may start skipping meals, not eating for long periods of time, or at times eat excessive amounts of food at once.
3. Need for Isolation
It is normal for you to feel awkward or uncomfortable about disturbing a loved one that has asked for some time alone. This is especially true if a person is in the bathroom; no one wants to be interrupted in those situations. But the truth is, excessive and unusual time spent behind closed doors, especially in the bathroom or dark rooms, can be indicative of substance abuse disorder.
4. Changes in Ability to Handle Normal Responsibilities
Missing work or school due to sleeping in or suddenly and frequently not feeling well can be signs an addiction may be present and beginning to negatively impact your loved one’s life. Forgetting to pay bills, ignoring responsibilities such as feeding a pet, not maintaining personal hygiene, or not turning in assignments on time can indicate possible addiction; especially if multiple examples are present.
5. Changes in Friends, Social Activities, and Locations
The person you love probably has a core group of friends, associates and places he or she frequents on a normal basis. Be alert to changes in their patterns including withdrawal from the things they once enjoyed. You may also see an increase in new “acquaintances” or individuals coming in and out of your loved one’s life.
6. An increase in Sudden “Emergency” Situations That Cause Unexpected Stress
Unexpectedly losing a job, frequent “emergencies” to attend to, or a sudden change in priorities are all indications of a possible addiction; especially when such occurrences happen frequently and in succession. Be aware of someone you love frequently contacting you to help them solve their sudden emergencies.
7. Frequently Asking to Borrow Money, and in Strange Amounts
This is a big indication that a person you love may be struggling with an addiction. There are always things that come up in the process of life where someone may need a helping hand. But if your loved one suddenly needs small, varying amounts of money it may indicate substance use issues. Be aware of strange amounts such as $22.00 or, $11.00. Why? In this day and age, money can be transferred electronically in a matter of seconds. Requests to transfer money to a bank account or other financial institution in strange amounts is a clear indication that they are attempting to pull money from an ATM machine or get cash back at the store, and need enough to buy their drugs or alcohol while covering the cost of the transaction fees.
8. Changes in the amount of time spent away from home
If the person you love is suddenly or frequently making short trips to the store, coming back with nothing, or coming back with items not normally purchased, it may be an indication they have an active addiction. Staying out for long or abnormal hours and going in and out for cigarettes or walks at frequent and odd times can also be indications.
9. Physical Changes
People addicted to substances such as drugs or alcohol will inevitably experience changes in figure, weight, and complexion. Heavy drug use can cause a drastic loss of weight. Heavy alcohol use, on the other hand, may cause puffy or swollen faces, red eyes, and weight gain.
10. Becoming Unusually Defensive and/or Patronizing
One thing that those who have never had a substance use problem may be unaware of is the burden of guilt and simultaneous need a user has to maintain their active-addiction at all costs. If someone you love has started to act unusually defensive over small inquires and normal situations, he or she may be masking guilt and attempting to cover up an addiction. This can be out of both shame and a desire to keep the addiction and patterns going. When someone you love is overly adamant, to the point of defensiveness, that nothing is wrong it may warrant a closer look.
These indications are merely that, indications. Alone they are part of most lives but when multiple indications are present you may consider the possibility of a struggle.
If you think a loved one may be struggling with substance use disorder find a resource that can provide a professional assessment and facilitate finding appropriate resources if needed. There are also resources to help those who have a loved one struggling with addiction; such as counseling for those who are supporting someone with an addiction. These resources can help optimize the support you are able to provide while facilitating your own wellbeing.