Things To Look For If You Think Your Loved One Has An Addiction

Drug addiction, also referred to as substance use disorder, is a disease which affects a person's brain and consequently their behavior and ultimately leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication.

Such substances as alcohol, marijuana and nicotine are also considered drugs. When a person is addicted, they may continue to use the drug despite all the harmful ramifications in place. Addiction compels you to keep using the drug even when you know that you are poisoning your body.

Drug addiction may start with experimental use of a recreational drug in social situations, and, for some people, the drug use progresses so that it becomes increasingly frequent. For other people, particularly when opioids are involved, drug addiction starts with exposure to prescribed medications, or accessing medications from friends or relatives who are prescribed the medication by a physician.

The risk of addiction as well as how fast one gets addicted will vary by drug. Some drugs, with the example of opioid painkillers, usually have a higher risk and lead to addiction a lot more quickly than other substances.

To understand the situation an addicted loved one may be in, it helps to examine things from an addict's point of view. As time goes by, as an addict, you may find that you need increasingly stepped up doses of the drug to get high.

Soon you may require using the drug just to feel good. Without the drug, you may find that it is impossible to experience good feelings. As your drug use increases, you may find that it becomes increasingly difficult to send significant time periods without the drug. Attempts to desist drug use may lead to intense cravings and make you feel physically ill (withdrawal symptoms).

The addicted person may require help from a doctor, from family, friends, dedicated support groups or even an organized treatment program so as to be able to overcome their drug addiction and live a life that is drug-free.

Physical Signs of Drug Addiction

When an addicted person misuses drugs, they may start to exhibit multiple physical signs that point to their prolonged abuse of drugs. Some of these signs are easy to spot while others may not be so readily apparent. Many of these latter signs may either be disguised or set in as gradual changes.

Among the most common physical signs of addiction are:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Changes in appetite and eating habits
  • Changes in weight
  • Chemical odor on breath or clothes
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Frequent runny nose (common with cocaine addiction)
  • Irregular sleeping patterns
  • Loss of physical coordination
  • Marks on skin
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Tremors or seizures
  • Sudden Weight Loss

a) Sudden Weight Loss

Weight fluctuations are common side effects of drug use and abuse, although weight changes will often vary depending on the particular drug that is being used or abused. Some substances, with the example of marijuana, increase the person's appetite, leading them to eat more food than they otherwise would if they were not under the influence of the drug. Conversely, a person that struggles with an addiction to a stimulant such as cocaine, Adderall, meth or ecstasy may lose weight at an unnaturally fast rate.

b) Change in Sleep Patterns

An addicted person who faces a substance use disorder may experience interrupted sleep patterns, insomnia or hypersomnia (for instance, oversleeping). They may find it impossible to maintain a steady sleep schedule and they may fall asleep at unusual times in the day or be completely unable to sleep for any significant time periods at night. This uncomfortable addiction symptom may be addressed when undergoing therapy at a rehab center.

c) Changes in Skin

With repeated drug use, you may begin to notice changes in the addicted person's complexion, with the advent of such conditions as jaundice, paleness or acne. Additionally, an addict who injects his or her drugs may develop visible track marks, scars, scabs or even bruises on the skin. Look out for these ones.

d) Bloodshot Eyes

Drugs and alcohol may have varied effects on an addict's body. However, one thing remains steady: the effect on the addicted person's eyes. For instance, a person who is high on heroin will have constricted pupils, a condition that is called miosis, or their eyes may be bloodshot, a symptom that is commonly associated with use of marijuana.

e) Poor Personal Hygiene

It's common for an addicted person to neglect their appearance and abandon all forms of normal grooming. Dental hygiene will be poor, and bathing as well general physical cleanliness will clearly not be in their list of top priorities. A person that constantly has to grapple with heavy hangovers or who is constantly extricating themselves from intense drug binges will understandably not give too much heed to basic hygiene.

Behavioral Signs of Addiction

In addition to the marked changes in physical appearance, an addicted person that is in the habit of misusing drugs or alcohol may behave like a different person altogether. There are just as many behavioral signs of addiction as there are physical ones, and some of the most significant ones include:

  • Changes in activities or hobbies (or an utter neglect of these)
  • Decreased participation in family activities
  • Financial issues
  • Legal issues
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Poor performance in work or school
  • Repeated lying, dishonesty or deceit
  • Secretive behavior
  • Secretive Behavior
  • Self-isolation
  • Shifts in social circles

Of the behavioral signs of substance abuse, secretive behavior may be one of the most common and telling. A person that struggles with drug addiction may become increasingly recluse and withdrawn from his or her loved ones and may often seek privacy in a bid to either to obtain or to abuse drugs. They may feel that they need to keep their drug or alcohol use a secret and may lie about their whereabouts or activities.

a) Isolating Oneself

Social, emotional and mental isolation are all common signs that a person needs help for drug addiction. Persons who face a drug use disorder may separate themselves from their partners, their friends or even family members in their efforts to keep their drug addiction a secret and to stay away from such a line of questioning as will link their unexplained physical changes, like track marks or weight loss to drug use and abuse.

b) Neglecting Responsibilities

If a person is always high or under the influence of drugs and alcohol, they may go on to disregard their daily responsibilities, such as attending work or school, running a household or even taking care of their pets and kids. They may have a lot of difficulty remembering the details of vital appointments or even blatantly ignore pressing deadlines or obligations.

c) Financial Problems

Drug addictions can be (and often is) extremely costly, depending on the substance that is being used and abused. A person may repeatedly ask for money from friends or family members or, more commonly, sell off any possessions with some value to maintain their addiction. If a person fails to get assistance for their substance use disorder, they may end up risking extreme financial stress and could very well face bankruptcy.

Psychological Signs of Drug Addiction

When a person misuses drugs, they may look as well as act in uncharacteristic ways, and they may also think and feel differently than they usually do. Psychological signs of drug abuse may include distinct changes in an addicted person's thought patterns as well as their beliefs, attitudes and priorities.

Some of the common psychological signs of drug addiction are:

  • Changes in personality traits
  • Mental illness like depression or anxiety
  • Paranoid, fearful or obsessive thoughts
  • Negative self-image
  • Dismal outlook on or attitude toward life
  • Withdrawing emotionally from loved ones
  • Lack of motivation
  • Feelings of apathy or disinterest

a) Sudden Mood Swings

Unexplained, or seemingly unprovoked, mood swings are often among the most common warning signs that a person is struggling with drug addiction. When the addicted person is high, they may tend to be hyperactive, overly affectionate or even excitable. As soon as the drug high wears off and the withdrawal symptoms begin to set in, they may get angry, irritable or even verbally abusive.

b) Paranoia

Paranoid thoughts are common among people who struggle with drug and alcohol use disorders. Individuals who misuse drugs may mistrust the people around them, become highly suspicious of family and friends or ascribe unrealistic motives to the actions of other people. During addiction treatment, paranoid delusions can be addressed through counseling options like cognitive behavioral therapy.

c) Lack of Motivation

Someone who struggles with a substance use disorder may feel like a slave to their disease, unable to stop using drugs even when they attempt to. Feelings of hopelessness and despair may accompany withdrawal symptoms like extreme lethargy, which can cause someone to feel unmotivated or unable to overcome addiction.

d) Irritability

Drastic mood changes are common among persons that struggle with drug use disorders, along with hypersensitivity as well as increased irritability. A person who experiences painful physical withdrawal symptoms may become incredibly irritable and they may lash out at loved ones in anger unexpectedly.

Staging an intervention

Persons struggling with drug addiction are often quick to deny their addiction is an issue. They may insist that they do not require help and are just fine. An intervention presents you with the opportunity to make changes before everything takes a turn for the disastrous. Interventions have been known to save persons from overdosing for a second or third time, and thus removing the very real fatal element from the equation.

When conducting an intervention, everything should be very carefully planned. It helps to consult with a professional who has ample experience in matters to do with intervention. The best kinds of interventions usually have an intervention professional present.

They work to keep emotional outbursts at bay. Further, they will also make sure discussions follow the predetermined schedule and that the message is driven fully home into the addicted person's brain.

During the intervention, the person's present gather together to have a direct, heart-to-heart conversation with the addicted person about the consequences of drug addiction and they work toward having him or her accepting treatment.