When a family member knows that a loved one has an addiction problem, it can be stressful for everyone involved. Whether it’s illegal drugs, alcohol, or medications, addiction and substance abuse can bring negative consequences to your loved one’s life and the people around them.
So, if you’re suspecting that your loved one is currently having addiction problems, knowing the signs and symptoms may help you confirm and recognize the problem and eventually help them get the treatment they need.
What Is Addiction?
For starters, addiction is the inability to control oneself from using or abusing a substance despite knowing its adverse consequences. Often, it can’t be governed by the person due to the substance dependence that they’ve developed over time. Most of them would even tend to deny or firmly insist that they’re not addicted to something, making it harder for the family to recognize the problem.
Furthermore, suppose you try to take the substance away from them or limit their access to it. In that case, they may experience withdrawal symptoms and have difficulty functioning normally without the substance.
As a concerned loved one or family member, familiarizing yourself with the signs and symptoms of addiction is the first step towards supporting your addicted loved one to recover and seek proper treatment.
How To Identify Addiction In A Loved One?
An addiction problem can adversely impact all areas of a person’s life. Keeping an eye out for these affected areas may help you identify an existing addiction problem.
For your guide, here are the five tips to help you spot and recognize if your loved one’s suffering from addiction.
- Look For Physical Changes
Changes in physical health can be the most detectable signs of an addiction problem. When a person has an addiction, they often spend most of their time using the substance. Once they run out of supply, they go out and seek more, eventually neglecting and forgetting about their hygiene habits, eating schedules, exercise routines, and general self-care practices.
Forgoing these self-care habits will visibly affect their body and overall appearance. A person with an addiction problem may show any of these visible physical changes:
- Dramatic weight gain or loss
- Flushed skin
- Dilated pupils
- Skin color changes
- Broken capillaries on the face
- Dental issues
- Sores on the body or face
- Broken nails
- Unhealthy hair
If you’ve noticed any of these physical changes, you’ll need to take a closer look at their behavioral differences.
2. Pay Attention To Behavioral Changes
Besides physical changes, addiction can also impact a person’s behavior in numerous ways. The effects may vary depending on the type of substance used by the individual. For example, if the person is addicted to fentanyl, intended for pain medication, they may start using it more frequently than initially prescribed.
Some of them may even attempt to buy from illegal manufacturers, especially when they’re prohibited from buying it at the pharmacy. In that case, you need to encourage them to seek treatment and go to rehab at Jacksonhouserehab.com or other rehabilitation centers that offer treatment against fentanyl addiction.
Overall, the behavioral effects caused by addiction can negatively impact a person’s daily functioning and quality of life.
Here are some behavioral changes to look out for that may signify an addiction problem:
- Telling lies or excuses about their whereabouts
- Borrowing or stealing money or bank cards for unknown reasons
- Valuable things or jewelry suddenly disappearing
- Engaging in risky behaviors
- Drinking alone or in secret
- Excessive sniffing
- Seeking frequent fights and arguments
- Using substances to improve mood, relax, or sleep
- Uncharacteristic mood swings
- Neglecting old hobbies or any activities they once enjoyed
- Unexplained injuries or accidents
- Neglecting grooming and hygiene
If you detect these changes, motivate them to seek treatment immediately before these behaviors lead to paranoia, hallucinations, or suicidal thoughts.
3. Search For Any Drug Or Alcohol Paraphernalia
Another way you can spot addiction in your loved one is by searching for any evidence of substance paraphernalia.
Although everyone is entitled to their right to privacy, if you suspect your child of an addiction problem, they’re under your responsibility. Thus, taking this step is necessary, especially if you strongly believe they’re using illegal substances.
Some of the substance paraphernalia that may signify an addiction problem are:
- Cigarette papers
- Empty alcohol bottles
- Miniature spoons
- Injection needles
- Water pipes
On the other hand, if the loved one in question for addiction is an adult, it may be more challenging to search for any substance paraphernalia. While you can’t invade their personal belongings, perhaps you can try searching for such paraphernalia in the shared living spaces within the house. You can try searching for paraphernalia remnants on the trash cans, the medicine cabinets in the family bathroom, or bloodstains on the walls or their clothes when you’re doing their laundry.
4. Watch For Any Changes In Their Daily Routine
If the loved one suspected of addiction lives with you on the same roof, looking out for the changes to their daily routine may be more manageable. Most often, people who engage in alcohol or drug addiction tend to let go of their old ways as they become more focused on satisfying their habits.
For example, you may notice the person becoming more secretive with their whereabouts or becoming more distant and less social with their family and friends. You may also see them hanging out with new friends, but they refrain from explaining or introducing them to you about how or where they met.
Their addiction problem can also adversely affect their performance at school or work. You can reach out to their teachers and talk about their failing grades or ask when they started failing in school. If their job performance is severely affected, you can contact their bosses or co-workers and ask about their frequent absences or tardiness at work.
Overall, an addiction problem can quickly dominate the person’s life as using and obtaining these addictive substances becomes their topmost priority. All the things they prioritized before, like school, employment, and even personal relationships, will become the last thing on their minds.
5. Be Attentive On The Sudden Changes Of Their Sleeping Habits
Drug or alcohol addiction can also cause erratic changes to an individual’s sleeping patterns. For instance, stimulant drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines can increase people’s alertness, eventually causing them to avoid sleep for several days and stay awake all night.
On the other hand, opiates like heroin and other painkillers can cause the person to feel deeply relaxed, leading to sleepiness. Thus, you may notice these people sleeping at unusual hours, or worse, falling asleep while driving or in the middle of conversations.
- How To Offer Help To Your Loved One?
Spotting signs and symptoms of addiction in your loved one can be heartbreaking. There are some ways you can help them and encourage them to seek proper treatment.
- Instead of nagging, yelling, or lecturing them when finding out about their addiction, you need to focus on building trust both ways. The stronger you establish trust with each other, the more likely they’ll listen to you for advice, guidance and seek your support when deciding to go to rehab or attend therapy sessions.
- Never blame or threaten them about their addictive behaviors. Giving them ultimatums will only encourage them to hide their addictions from you, making it harder to help them.
- Be honest and communicate effectively when you tell them how their addiction has affected your life. For instance, instead of saying, ‘You’re not thinking how your addiction has affected the family,’ you can say, ‘I get sad and worried every time you drink or do drugs.’ Positive conversations and reinforcements can help them become more open-minded to seeking treatment.
- Show them they can lean on you anytime. For example, once they decide to go to rehab, you can volunteer to watch over their kids or pet so they can focus on their treatment and not worry about anything else.
- Never tell anyone about their addiction problem. The only person you can open up with this sensitive matter is the person himself or a professional therapist. Telling others about their addiction problems will only make them feel betrayed and lose their trust in you. The same goes once they’re attending therapy sessions. Never inform anyone, even their close friends or relatives, about your loved one’s ongoing addiction treatment without their consent.
- How To Handle Difficulties When Offering Help?
Difficulties are bound to happen along the way. Some of these difficulties can occur when your loved one:
- May deny their addiction
- May feel embarrassed to open up or discuss their addiction
- Maybe unwilling to quit their addiction problem
- May use addiction to cope with other illnesses (e.g., mental disorders)
In that case, persuading them to seek treatment may not work. The best thing is to establish trust, stay patient, provide empathy, and show them that you’re willing to go through the solution with them.
The Bottom Line
Having a family member or a loved one with addiction may be challenging, but thankfully, treatment is possible. The sooner you spot these addiction signs, and symptoms; the more your loved one can seek treatment at the earliest time possible and achieve a positive outcome.
So, keep an eye out for the signs, and don’t hesitate to consult a professional therapist for more tips about addiction issues and their corresponding treatment options.