If you believe that your loved one may be suffering from addiction, neither of you are alone. According to a study performed by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 21.5 million Americans who were 12 years or older were addicted to either drugs or alcohol in 2014. Substance abuse has cost Americans over $200 billion in legal, health care, and criminal justice fees. Not to mention the amount of money spent on the substance itself. Because substance abuse can cost your loved one your life, it’s important to be able to distinguish between an addiction, an illness, and just a bad day. To determine if your loved one is suffering from an addition, this article will give you tips on how to spot addiction.
1. Physical Indicators
Recognizing addiction isn’t always easy. Sometimes the physical signs could be because of an illness they have that they’re not aware of or they could just be stressed. Largely, what first should be considered is the duration of these physical signs. If you’ve only just started noticing them, it may be prudent to wait for a time to see if the signs disappear. However, if they persist or worsen, then it is quite possible that your loved one is suffering from an addiction and should be given help as soon as possible.
One of the initial indicators that you may notice if your loved one is using a substance is if they have a sudden weight loss or gain. Depending on the drug of choice, or alcohol, their weight can fluctuate dramatically. Some of the drugs tend to kick the metabolism into overdrive and the fat from their bodies is eaten up and broken down. In other instances, their metabolism is slowed, so it’s much easier for them to gain weight. While you might not be able to convince them to weigh themselves, just take a visual search of their person. Are their clothes baggy on them or are they becoming too tight? This could indicate they have a substance problem.
Another common side effect of some drugs is insomnia. Because drugs interfere with the chemistry in the brain, it can cause them to find difficulty in sleeping. Sometimes this is because they’re given excess energy. In other cases, it might be because the drug put them into a stupor for most of the day, and so they have energy that they haven’t used yet still bottled up inside of them. Typically, however, insomnia occurs because the chemistry from the drug is keeping the brain from producing the chemicals needed to fall asleep. So, if you notice that your loved one is staying awake when you go to bed or they’re unable to fall back asleep frequently, this could be a sign of an addiction.
With their insomnia might come headaches. This is particularly true if they haven’t been able to take their drug or alcohol at some time and are undergoing withdrawal. One test you can do on how to spot alcohol addiction is to try and keep the alcohol from your loved one as casually as you can. Don’t deliberately hide it and let them know or else they might become angry. However, if you can separate them from alcohol, you can determine their state of addiction if they receive a headache or form other withdrawal symptoms. This is, perhaps, one of the easiest–if not kindest–means of determining if your loved one is addicted or not.
One big indicator of how to spot drug addiction is to physically examine their body for injection marks from their drug of choice. While not all drugs need to be injected via a needle in order to receive their high, if you suspect that your loved one has a heroin addiction, then you can check their arms, hands, and other parts of their body to see if there are track marks. The number that they have could indicate how long they’ve been addicted and how deep into their addiction they are.
You might also notice that their hands are trembling or their voice has become huskier. The huskiness of the voice might indicate just when they take their drug. Dilated pupils are another indicator that they are under the influence. One last physical indicator that your loved one may be addicted is if they vomit and you notice blood in their vomit. This is a sign that the drug is wreaking havoc on the body and that your loved one needs help immediately.
2. Behavioral Signs
Besides the physical, there are also behavioral signs that might be able to help you determine if your loved one is addicted to a substance or not. It may be difficult to determine if you not live with your loved one and cannot keep track of their behavior that closely. However, look for these signs and patterns as it usually indicates a substance problem.
If your loved one frequently remarks about losing their memory or having blackouts about certain parts of their day, this is a sign of addiction. Some drugs simply make them lose consciousness or go into a state of almost hypnosis where they no longer recall where they are or what they were doing.
Their moods may shift dramatically, too. They may argue more or be depressed. Some of these may be attributed to withdrawal as their aggression can increase when their mind starts to demand the effects the drug gives to it. Because the chemical properties of drugs play with the serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, they often end up removing the brain’s ability to produce them naturally. Since those molecules are necessary to feel happy or joy, your loved one may feel depressed during the periods when they’re not high or intoxicated.
Another common staple for addicted individuals is to neglect their family, friends, and responsibilities. This is often because they leave to get high, and if they suffer a blackout, they may lose track of time or forget where they needed to go. The harsher drugs, especially, can make movement or driving impossible. As they become more dependent on the drug, they may feel that they need it in order to deal with the pressures at work or to relax before a social engagement. However, by taking the drug, they are then unable to perform those responsibilities or attend that event. If you noticed that your loved one keeps missing out on work and social engagements, then they could be suffering from an addiction.
Because drugs and alcohol are quite costly, they may ask around for money. It’s also common that they lie about the reason for why they need the money. It may be a good idea to keep track of how much money they ask for and then see where they spend it. If the amount given doesn’t quite add up to how much they’re spending, then the rest of the money could be going toward a substance.
For alcoholics, you may find that they have to drink in order to feel relaxed. This will usually result in them drinking alone in the morning, afternoon, and night. They may also drink far more than they say they’re going to.
Besides these signs, you can perform a quick search of their room and home for drug paraphernalia. If you see these with the other signs listed above, then your loved one may be addicted and requires help.
If you are looking for the solution, contact one of our Addiction Specialists today for a no-risk confidential assessment. Proper recovery can make the difference. Give us a call today at (561)-770-6616 to learn more about our effective rehab treatment programs.