Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease that is characterized by compulsive drug use with complete disregard for consequences. Addiction is different from substance abuse in the way that substance abuse refers to any misuse of a substance, whereas addiction causes severe impairment in a person’s day to day life. Furthermore, people who suffer from addiction may be unable to control how much they use, how often they use, and what happens when they use drugs. Individuals may desperately want to stop and sober up, however, they feel like it is impossible to do. Other times, people are in complete denial that they have a problem and need help. As a result, it is often up to family members and friends to spot the signs of drug addiction.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if a person is addicted to heroin, crack, meth, or prescription drugs – addiction is a destructive condition that affects every area of a person’s life. People who are addicted may show changes in behavior, signs of drug withdrawal, rebellious acts, and other abnormal behaviors that indicate an addiction.
How to Tell if a Loved One is Suffering From Drug Addiction
It isn’t always easy to recognize a drug problem, especially if it is in its early stages. However, there are many different signs and symptoms you can look for to figure out whether or not your loved one is addicted.
Identifying the Physical Signs of Drug Addiction
Addiction to drugs or alcohol can affect the body in many different ways. First, someone who abuses drugs over an extended period of time will develop a tolerance where they need to take increasingly large doses in order to produce a high. Tolerance then leads to physical dependence, a condition where drug users experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using. Withdrawal can be painful but can be managed at a medical detox center. Withdrawal symptoms vary by drug type, but may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Anxiety, depression, and irritability
- Body aches and pains
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
People who are addicted to drugs may show additional symptoms, as well. For example, someone who is addicted to opioids may have flushed skin, pinpoint pupils, and difficulty staying awake. On the other hand, someone who is addicted to stimulants may experience rapid weight loss, sores on their skin, dilated pupils, and increased energy levels. Extreme changes in physical appearance such as these are signs that your loved one may be struggling with addiction.
Behavioral Changes Associated With Addiction
In addition to physical changes, someone who struggles with addiction may also begin showing behavioral changes. These changes may appear in their daily lives, relationships, work, and more. Here are some of the most common behavioral signs of drug addiction:
- Frequent blackouts, memory loss, or inability to form memories
- Getting into fights or arguments with friends and family
- Experiencing mood swings
- Lying to friends and family members
- Sustaining unexplained injuries
- Neglecting one’s hygiene and personal health
- Borrowing or stealing money from other people
- Engaging in risky or illegal behaviors such as driving under the influence
- Making substances the top priority above all other things
- Neglecting responsibilities in order to use drugs or maintain one’s habit
If your loved one is acting strange, sneaking around, or telling lies, they may be abusing substances and be in need of professional addiction treatment.
Finding Drug Paraphernalia in the Home
If you’re living with an addict, especially if you’re a parent, you may consider searching their personal belongings to see if they have any drug paraphernalia. Although everyone is entitled to some level of privacy, addiction can be a life or death situation. If your loved one’s well-being depends on it, you may have reasoning to look through their things. If you are unsure of whether or not you should do this, you can consult with a therapist or addiction specialist.
Here are some popular types of paraphernalia to watch out for:
- Wooden, glass, ceramic, or plastic pipes
- Glass water pipes or bongs
- Spoons that are hidden, bent out of shape, or have residue on them
- Needles that are used to inject substances
- Rolling papers or blunt wraps
- Cut up straws, rolled dollar bills, or other objects used as “tudors” to snort substances
Recognizing Daily Life Changes
People who are addicted to drugs will often experience difficulties in their relationships. For example, addicts may spend more time obtaining and using substances while they neglect their personal relationships. In turn, friends and family will begin to notice that their loved one is being isolated and secretive. They may even become hurt or resentful at how their loved one is acting.
Other signs of drug addiction include a declining performance at work or school, problems with teachers or supervisors, or even calling in sick more often than usual. People may have unexplained absences or lack of productivity while on the job.
Furthermore, addiction often exists simultaneously with other mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. If your loved one is self-medicating their symptoms with drugs or alcohol, they may be addicted. Or, they may be showing signs of mental illness, such as depressed moods, mood swings, and more.
Find Help for an Addicted Loved One Today
If you have spotted these signs of addiction in your loved one, it may be time to confront them about their drug use or consider staging an intervention. With the right treatment program, recovery is possible. If you suspect that your loved one is addicted, pick up the phone and contact a dedicated treatment provider today.