An addiction is not something that happens in a day, it typically begins with casual use and escalates over time to become a habit. The signs are not always clear as changes may be subtle and your loved one may be able to compensate fairly well. However, you know your loved ones the best and are the best judge of changes. If you think there may be something off with your loved one, but they are not talking about it or becomes defensive when you ask, your instincts could be right. Not all addicts manifest symptoms the same way, but there are a few things you can look for any tell-tale signs that your loved one is suffering from an addiction.
A change in mood, attitude, or motivation.
One of the hallmark signs of an addiction is a change in behavior. Whether your loved one becomes more withdrawn or seems to have lost their determination and motivation, or they seem more angry, volatile, or unpredictable, addictive substances typically have an effect on demeanor and the absence of a substance in an addict can cause an uncomfortable shift in mood. While under the influence, an addict may become excitable and energetic, or they may become sullen and appear absent. Any change in mood, attitude, or motivation is a clear indication that something is not right with your loved one, whether it is an addiction or something personal, you’ll have to do a little more investigating to find out.
Secretive behavior is an indication that your loved one is engaged in something that they know is something their loved ones would not approve of. Whether the secretiveness stems from shame, embarrassment, or the fact that they are engaged in illegal activity differs for each addict. An addiction to anything is not generally something that the addict is proud of, or in most cases, even willing to acknowledge. A secret life from the ones they love is common.
Sudden, unexplained weight loss or weight gain.
Depending on the substance being abused, many addicts will suffer a change in weight. Whether a side effect of the substance itself or a result in the change of behavior associated with the substance. Those who used to be mindful of what they ate and drank and how they exercised, may become more careless and some substances can cause an addict to not eat while burning excessive calories. A sudden, unexplained weight loss can be attributed to a few medical conditions, so addiction may not be the first conclusion to jump to but is a good indicator if you suspect substance abuse.
A sudden change in finances.
Addictive substances are an expense most people cannot afford. Whether it is an extra bottle of whiskey every few days or a hit of heroin, the additional expense takes a toll on finances. If your loved one suddenly had more financial concerns, is constantly needing to borrow money, or is falling behind on bills, it may be a sign of addiction. Additionally, a substance abuse problem can put a strain on the working life of an addict who can no longer compensate and may affect their income. The decreased income and additional expenses usually create a noticeable change in financial status. Before assuming addiction, check for any other indicators that may explain the change in finances or you can ask directly.
Bloodshot eyes or abnormal pupils.
Bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, and dark circles around the eyes are side effects of most substances, as well as results of altered nutrition and sleep patterns. The physical signs are the easiest to spot and more clearly indicate substance use. However, before you assume there is an addiction problem, it is a good idea to talk to your loved one. While recreational marijuana use may not be a big concern, it warrants a much different reaction than a heroin addiction.
A decline in performance.
A decline in performance in school, work, relationships, or life, in general, is a classic indication that your loved one may be suffering from an addiction. Many drug users are able to compensate and live a relatively normal life. What is referred to as “functioning addict” is misleading because oftentimes the addict is unable to notice changes or fully appreciate the gravity of the situation. It is important to understand that an addiction is not a choice behavior, but an obsessive, overwhelming desire to use a substance despite the consequence. The addict has little to no control over the addiction and once they are suffering from a full-blown addiction, nothing else in life seems to matter and performance will generally begin to decline.
If you see any of these warning signs or a combination of them, it is important not to ignore them. Addiction is not something that many addicts are willing to admit to themselves or others and may feel protective over their situation, defensive, guilty, or ashamed and embarrassed to acknowledge the problem or ask for help. If you recognize these signs in your loved one, talk to them about it! If you don’t feel comfortable or don’t know how to start the conversation, contact us at Metro Rehab today. We are Oak Park’ premier drug rehabilitation center and have the knowledge and experience to help you deal with addiction in your family. Contact us for more information or to find out about our drug addiction recovery program options.