The thought that a friend or loved one could be struggling with substance abuse is a scary thought. Unfortunately, many people experiencing addiction are unable or unwilling to share their struggles with others. This feeling of shame or denial makes them less likely to seek help or admit that they need it.
Before you start a campaign to get your loved one help, you should start by confirming whether your concerns are legitimate. Here are six signs that someone you know is battling addiction.
Changes in Physical Appearance
One of the primary signs of addiction is a sudden change in physical appearance. Depending on the substance being used, this can manifest in several ways. According to the experts at Brookside Treatment, severe weight loss is a common sign of addiction, as many drugs result in a diminished appetite. Additionally, those in the thrall of addiction prioritize paying for their substance overpaying for food.
Changes in hygiene are another sign of substance abuse, as are changes in skin and hair tone and texture. Many drug users also experience dental issues. In some cases, weight gain can be associated with substance abuse, especially in cases of alcoholism.
Behavioral Changes and Outbursts
Changes in moods and behavior are another telling sign that something is wrong. People experiencing substance abuse may seem to fluctuate between manic highs and depressive lows or have uncharacteristic outbursts of anger.
Conversely, when someone is coming down from using or experiencing withdrawal, they may be agitated, irritable, and lethargic. People with substance abuse disorders often experience noticeable changes in their sleep patterns, often sleeping for extended periods after a high.
New Social Groups
If you notice that the person you’re concerned about has a new, questionable social group, there’s reason to be concerned. People experiencing addiction typically hang around with other people experiencing addiction. Conversely, the habit might develop after being assimilated into a new group — especially for young people.
There’s no reason to be concerned if your child suddenly makes new friends. However, if the physical and emotional signs of substance abuse start around the same time as the new social group, it’s likely connected.
Loss of Interest in Relationships and Activities
In addition to finding a new social group, people battling addiction will also often lose interest in their existing relationships, hobbies, and activities. If you notice the person is starting to withdraw from the people who care about them or stop engaging in activities that once brought them joy, there’s a reason for concern.
Again, changing interests and making new friends isn’t a guaranteed sign of substance abuse. However, if these changes occur with the other signs listed here, it could be a sign of addiction.
Failure to Meet Responsibilities
When someone is caught in an addiction, nothing else matters to them except getting that substance. Yes, they’re still humans capable of love and emotion, but securing that substance becomes the top priority.
This shift in priorities often leads to a failure to meet basic responsibilities. This could include anything from forgetting about events to not showing up when they said they would, to letting their house get uncharacteristically messy. These issues often culminate in job loss.
Unexplained Financial Issues
If the person you’re concerned about suddenly has inexplicable financial issues, it could be a sign of substance abuse. As mentioned, securing the substance of choice becomes the top priority, more than going to work or buying groceries.
Many people who lose their jobs due to substance abuse hide this fact from the people around them. Unfortunately, they may start stealing from others at this point — even those they care about.
There’s no one sign of addiction to watch for, and many issues on this list could be a result of other issues or challenges in a person’s life. However, if the person in question exhibits many behaviors or changes listed here, there’s cause for concern.
Remember, it’s crucial to handle this delicate situation with care and reach out for professional guidance before speaking to the individual.
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