When you picture a drug addict or alcoholic, what comes to mind? Certainly not your loved ones…right? Perhaps you think of the wino sprawled across a park bench or the jittery crack addict that hangs out on the street corner. While these are stereotypes of what an addict looks like, the reality is that you may not be able to spot addiction so easily. Some addicts are quite adept at hiding their addiction from others and even, in some cases, from themselves.
Signs of Addiction
Do you suspect that someone you care for is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction? Here are some signs of addiction that will help you identify the problem and get appropriate help for your loved one:
1) Uses prescription drugs for longer than planned, or in a different way than prescribed
According to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, in the US alone, more than 15 million people abuse prescription drugs. If your loved one uses prescription drugs for longer than outlined by a physician or regularly takes more than prescribed, this can be a red flag signaling that something is wrong.
2) Hoards drugs whenever possible
An addict’s drug of choice must always be in bountiful supply; otherwise, the addict can experience extreme anxiety and even withdrawal. MNT’s “Signs and Symptoms of Addiction” notes that to avoid those unpleasant feelings:
“People who are addicted to a substance will always make sure they have a good supply of it, even if they do not have much money. Sacrifices may be made in the house budget to make sure the substance is as plentiful as possible.”
3) Uses drugs to control mood and solve problems
If you notice that your loved one’s default solution to problems is always to reach for a drink or pop a pill, this can indicate the presence of addiction. Addicts tend to believe that their drug of choice is a cure-all for stress, cravings, and emotional pain.
4) Experiences changes in mood, behavior, and appearance
Addiction brings with it a number of unpleasant side effects including insomnia, irritability, irrational anger, lethargy, and personality shifts. Co-workers, supervisors, teachers, or classmates of your loved one may begin to complain about inappropriate behaviors. NCADD points out:
“People struggling with addiction are known to act out against those closest to them, particularly if someone is attempting to address their substance problems.”
Addiction can also manifest itself in a sudden change in grooming habits. If your normally fastidious wife no longer takes an interest in combing her hair or dressing in clean clothes, or your neat-as-a-pin husband begins to neglect to brush his teeth or shower, these things can indicate the possible presence of addiction.
5) Exhibits secretive behavior
If your loved one goes out of his or her way to conceal the amount of drugs or alcohol consumed or attempts to hide any negative effects of drug abuse like health issues, unexplained accidents, or damaged property, this can be a serious sign of addiction.
6) Chooses isolation or new acquaintances over old friendships
Many addicts avoid spending time with people who know them well enough to discern behavioral changes caused by addiction. Instead, they may seek out new friends who engage in addictive behaviors themselves.
7) Breaks a vow to stop using the substance in question
Addicts may say things like, “I can stop anytime I want.” If your loved one has said this and made an effort to stop but has met with failure, this is a big red flag that abuse has led to addiction.
8) Exhibits risk-taking behaviors
In some cases, an addict may take uncharacteristic risks to obtain the drug. For instance, he or she might spend more money than can be afforded to ensure a steady supply of the substance, or engage in criminal activity to get more of the drug.
In the case of prescription drug abuse, your loved one may lie to physicians and pharmacists in an attempt to obtain prescription drugs illegally. Additionally, the addict may go to multiple doctors and numerous pharmacies to hide how many pills he or she is taking.
9) Develops a tolerance to the drug or withdrawal symptoms
Over time, your loved one’s body may adapt to a substance to the point that he or she needs more and more of it in order to have the same reaction. The addict might also experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, tremors, or other unpleasant side effects.
Addiction Recovery is Possible
If you notice any of these signs in your loved one, the most important thing to remember is that addiction recovery is possible. Talking openly and honestly with your loved one can result in a positive outcome. A frank discussion may help your loved one to understand how his or her behaviors are impacting your family.
We’re Here to Help
If possible, encourage your loved one to take advantage of treatment options available at a rehab center. Harris House offers both in-patient rehab as well as outpatient treatment options for those who want to regain control of their lives and start their journey to addiction recovery. To find out more about all the available options, contact us today.