Does My Loved One Have an Addiction?
Signs and Symptoms of Addiction from a Loved One
Addiction doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. It can be tough to spot the signs of addiction in a loved one, because they tend to creep up a little at a time. An abnormal behavior that raises your eyebrows once may start to feel “normal” all too quickly. You may be aware of individual subtle signs in your loved one without recognizing the overall pattern that points to addiction.
Signs of Addiction
Signs and symptoms of addiction vary from one person to another, and they manifest in slightly different ways. If you see a pattern of behavior reflecting these signs, however, you may be seeing addiction at work.
- Secrecy and Lies. Addicts try to hide their addictions. They lie when asked direct questions, or they avoid providing clear answers.
- Mood Swings. If your loved one has an addiction, you may spot rapid mood swings that don’t have any obvious explanation. Because mood swings can also indicate mental health issues, your loved one needs professional medical help.
- Changes in Sleep and Energy Levels. Some drugs provoke wild amounts of energy in the user; these include methamphetamines and cocaine. Other drugs, including prescription opioids when abused, cause extreme drowsiness. In some cases, your loved one may rocket back and forth between manic behavior and lethargy.
- Unexplained Weight Fluctuations. Some addictive substances rev up the metabolism and block appetite, causing your loved one to lose weight rapidly.
- Lack of Interest in the World Around Them. When a person becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, their whole world soon begins to revolve around the addiction. You may see your loved one avoiding friends and family, giving up hobbies, and ceasing to participate in their normal activities because of their addiction.
- Cessation of Responsible Behavior. If your loved one starts missing work or school on a regular basis, look for other signs of addiction. Addicts may also suffer from the aftereffects of a drug or alcohol binge and feel ill and unable to work.
- Memory Loss. If your loved one doesn’t participate in conversations about the past, or if they forget about appointments or other obligations, they could be suffering from the memory blackouts caused by some illicit drugs.
- Unexplained Trips. Addicts don’t want anyone to know where they’re going when they head out to buy drugs, so they may behave evasively or try to sneak out. Watch out for cover stories that don’t add up.
- Theft. Is money disappearing from your wallet? Addicts need money to feed their habits, and they often resort to stealing. Pay attention not only to cash but to small, valuable objects around your home that could be sold for cash.
- Physical Symptoms. Addicts often become very irritable as a side effect of the drugs. Watch out as well for physical symptoms such as bloodshot eyes, enlarged pupils, uncontrollable shaking, or unusual body odors.
What to Do If You Spot the Signs of Addiction
If these signs of addiction seem all too familiar, there are a few things you can do to verify your suspicions and start to figure out how to help your loved one. When you see signs of addiction, take these steps:
- Keep Track of What You’re Seeing. Keep a journal to record when your loved one leaves the house and returns, and compare it to their expected work or school schedule. Review their browsing history online, and pay attention if that history is cleared regularly. If you have access to phone bills, look for unfamiliar numbers called frequently, and watch for unexplained withdrawals of cash from bank accounts.
- Don’t Be Swayed. If your instincts are telling you that you’re seeing signs of addiction, don’t let your loved one’s excuses and denials sway you. Keeping that record of evidence helps a lot here.
- Watch for Dangerous or Suicidal Behavior. If your loved one seems despondent to the point of suicide or you see signs that they’re planning suicide, call 911 or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-TALK). Some addicts try to go through withdrawal on their own; because some drugs cause very dangerous side effects during withdrawal, seek medical help immediately.
- Talk to a Medical Professional. Call a medical professional with experience in addiction treatment to discuss your loved one’s symptoms, such as those available at Lumiere Healing Centers. Our professionals can help you confirm your suspicions and discuss how to get your loved one into treatment.
Your loved one is likely to hide many of these signs of addiction, and they’re also unlikely to admit the truth if confronted. By looking for the overall pattern, you can understand what’s going on. Even if your loved one wants to stop using drugs, they’re unlikely to be able to do so without help. Once you see the signs of addiction, you’re in a position to provide the support needed and direct your loved one to a place of help.