You think the signs are there but you’re just not sure. You have suspicions but don’t want to overreact. How do you know if your loved one is addicted? When you have concerns about a loved one’s behavior, it is important to be able to recognize the signs of addiction. If your suspicions are confirmed, it is critical that you then understand how to offer your help and support.
Types of Addiction
We often think of addiction as being a condition related only to drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse addiction can mean your loved one has become overly dependent on medications, alcohol, nicotine, inhalants, or other types of addictive substances. People can become addicted to any number of behaviors, though, including gambling, shopping, sex, or even use of the Internet.
Addiction to drugs or alcohol does not typically happen immediately with the first use. In fact, not everyone who uses drugs or drinks alcohol becomes addicted. The point at which use becomes abuse has more to do with the consequences of your loved one’s drinking or drug use than with the length of time it has been occurring. This fact is one of the main reasons that being able to recognize the signs of addiction is so important.
Changes in Personality
Signs that your loved one may be addicted to drugs or alcohol include a change in personality or in the way they act, respond, and behave in certain situations. Initially, the changes may just occur occasionally so you may not know whether the new behaviors are due to other factors. However, consistent personality changes that could indicate an addiction include:
- Losing interest in hobbies or activities that used to be important
- Neglecting relationships or reacting negatively to those closest to them
- Ignoring and overlooking important obligations such as work or family responsibilities
- Increased tendency to take risks, especially when needing to get drugs or alcohol
- Choosing to ignore negative consequences of their behaviors
- Increased and chronic fatigue because of a distinct change in sleeping patterns
- Becoming more secretive and even lying
- An increase in justifications for their behavior
- An increase in alienating themselves from anyone who is not also an addict.
Changes in Socialization
Many of the personality changes lead to changes in the addict’s social behaviors. The impact addiction can have on your loved one’s interactions with others includes:
- Giving up social activities that used to bring them joy, choosing to only participate when and where drugs or alcohol will be available
- Choosing to be alone more often, so he or she can use drugs or alcohol in secret
- Denying they have a problem when confronted by others, insisting they can quit any time they want to, and being resentful when asked about their drug or alcohol use
- Experiencing legal or financial issues directly related to the overuse of drugs and alcohol, including securing illegal drugs or participating in dangerous or illegal activities when intoxicated.
Physical Effects of Addiction
Someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol may begin to show physical changes. If your loved one is addicted, he or she may not be eating or sleeping well and that can seriously affect his or her physical health and appearance. There may be needle marks as well as limb damage or problems with veins and arteries on someone who is addicted to an injectable drug. Watch your loved one for:
- Consistently bloodshot eyes
- Disintegration of dental health
- Poor hygiene that is a new trait
- Memory or focus issues
- Slurred speech
Asking the Right Questions
The National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests asking these questions about your loved one’s use of drugs or alcohol:
- Does the person take the drug in larger amounts or for longer than intended?
- Do they want to cut down or stop using the drug but can’t?
- Do they spend a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from the drug?
- Do they have cravings and urges to use the drug?
- Are they unable to manage responsibilities at work, home, or school because of drug use?
- Do they continue to use a drug, even when it causes problems in relationships?
- Do they give up important social, recreational, or work-related activities because of drug use?
- Do they use drugs again and again, even when it puts them in danger?
- Do they continue to use, even while knowing that a physical or mental problem could have been caused or made worse by the drug?
- Do they take more of the drug to get the wanted effect?
- Have they developed withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the drug?
When to Seek Help
If you recognize these signs of addiction in your loved one, it is time to seek professional help. Ask your loved one to be honest about the answers to the questions suggested by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. While you cannot fix the problem yourself, you can encourage your loved one to contact a treatment center. Continue to be supportive, as your loved one will be challenged by trying to go through recovery without help.
Contact Makana Path to Learn More About Getting Help for Your Loved One
At Makana Path, we understand your concerns about your loved one. We offer a one-of-a-kind medical detox and intensive healing program customized to meet each client’s needs. To learn more about how we can help you and your loved one, contact Makana Path today by calling 1-866-905-4550.