How to Recognize If a Loved One Is Affected by Addiction

Addiction is pervasive, influencing all areas of one’s life. While those suffering from addiction may often try to hide it, there are certain signs that friends and family can watch for that may indicate an addiction. Here are 10 signs that your loved one may be suffering from a substance abuse issue and that it’s time to address the situation:

  1. Lying about using. Finding alcohol bottles or other substances hidden in various places around one’s house, or car, or other personal space, it’s clear that something is going on. Someone who has a normal relationship with alcohol, for example, wouldn’t resort to this kind of behavior.
  2. Extreme mood swings. Alcohol, for example, is a depressant, and it can wreak havoc on a person’s mental and physical health. While under the influence, a drinker may become angry or irritable more easily than in normal circumstances. When chronic drinking is an issue, it is not uncommon for a drinker to become depressed.
  3. Health problems. Several health problems can occur when abusing substances, depending on the substance, and they can range from slurred speech to coordination problems, general tiredness, sweating, nausea, excessive sleeping, trembling hands, gastrointestinal distress, and more.
  4. Problems at work or school. Showing up late, poor performance, or problematic choices are all signs that someone might be having issues with abusing substances.
  5. Legal issues. Driving under the influence or being drunk in public, for example, are some of the ways you can get in trouble with the law. There are even a number of charged that could be related to substance abuse, like assault and theft.
  6. Drug paraphernalia. Parents of children who suffer from addiction may want to search through their child’s belongings for drug paraphernalia. Everyone is entitled to privacy, but parents are responsible for their children’s well-being, and searching for drugs or alcohol may be warranted in some cases. Paraphernalia may include pipes, bongs, injection needles, or cigarette papers.
  7. Ignoring responsibilities at home. Sufferers of addiction may have trouble managing their tasks at home, like paying the bills on time, caring for their children, or providing basic care and maintenance for their home. Life tends to revolve around using substances and all else is ignored.
  8. Isolation from friends and family. As substances become a larger part of one’s life, they may withdraw from the people around them. For example, no drinker wants to hear that others are concerned about their drinking, and the feelings of guilt and embarrassment may drive them to isolate themselves.
  9. Regularly promising to cut back or quit. Substance abuse tends to build and build until it culminates in disaster, like an arrest, a health problem, theft, etc. That clearly identifies their substance use as a huge problem and they may feel remorseful and promise to stop using. They may even succeed for a day or a week, but they cannot maintain their sobriety for long.
  10. Lack of general interest. This tends to become prevalent in people who are using drugs, as can an overall sense of apathy and disinterest in their friends, family, activities, or interests the person held before abusing drugs.

If someone you care about is starting to seem like they might be abusing substances, it’s important to look for these common warning signs. While it can be difficult to spot some of them, it’s also important to not jump to conclusions. You should try to learn more about the signs of abuse and then explore professional care options.