Recognizing an addiction problem is not always easy. Sometimes the signs are unnoticeable but become increasingly evident as the addiction worsens. Addiction can be defined as a chronic disease that negatively affects the brain’s motivation, reward, and memory functions. A person who struggles with addiction craves for a substance like drugs and/or alcohol and creates a destructive habit out of this craving.
The first step in helping out a loved one from addiction is recognising they have a problem. Here are a couple of signs that you should look out for:
General signs of addiction
- Lack of self-control when using a certain substance.
- Neglecting personal relationships (i.e. abandoning commitments and decreasing socialization)
- Physical signs like extreme weight loss, bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, and weird marks/scars on their bodies.
- Uncontrolled mood swings accompanied by high and low energy levels.
- Financial difficulties (always borrowing money from friends and relatives).
Close friends and relatives are usually the first ones to notice these signs. When asked, the person may deny their addiction and find ways to justify their behavior. The signs may not be apparent during the early stages of addiction, but there are subtle indicators that show a person is developing it. They may start seeking out situations where the substance is present or miss out on important family events due to their addiction.
They could also be undergoing an experimental phase where they’re using drugs/alcohol as a means of stress management. If left untreated, it could develop into a full-blown addiction with debilitating effects that are physical, psychological, and emotional in nature.
Changes in personality
Once a person has passed the experimental stage of their addiction, they’re likely to exhibit drastic personality or behavioral changes. These changes include:
- Losing interest in doing hobbies or activities they used to enjoy.
- Reacting negatively and/or violently when asked about their addiction.
- Neglecting important responsibilities like work.
- Displays risk-taking tendencies to acquire drugs or continue their behavior.
- Abrupt sleeping patterns, insomnia, and always staying out late.
- Secrecy in their life activities.
- Aggressive behavior.
- Easily irritable and expresses apathy.
Over time, they may further isolate themselves from friends and family members in an effort to conceal their addiction. Instead, they’ll surround themselves with individuals who encourage their habits. They may find it difficult to open up about their addiction and resist admitting their habits when questioned.
Changes in physical health
A person with an addiction problem may also exhibit changes in their physical health. These signs are the most obvious and the changes are drastic in nature. Physical signs that indicate an addiction problem include:
- Extreme weight loss.
- Poor overall hygiene (bad breath, unkempt hair, stained nails and teeth).
- Slurred speech and difficulty forming sentences.
- Tremors and odd habits like clenching teeth.
- Loss of memory and problems recalling certain events.
- Sweating, trembling and vomiting.
- Appears worn down, tired, and exhausted.
- Eye redness and glazing.
While there’s a good chance that a medical condition may contribute to their physical decline, it’s important to exercise caution instead of turning a blind eye. A person with addiction problems will tend to underestimate the seriousness of their condition. If there’s no explanation for their current state, there’s an increased likelihood that they’re having addiction problems.
Long-term consequences of addiction
Once the addiction progresses to its later stages, it can potentially make permanent or long-term damage to several aspects of the person’s life. A person with a serious addiction problem may ignore these outcomes altogether and continue on with their destructive habits. These are the devastating consequences of addiction:
- Fractured relationships with friends and family.
- Potentially fired from work.
- Poor grades and eventually dropping out of school.
- Getting an infectious disease (esp. when sharing unsterile needles)
- Damaged reputation and loss of good standing
- Jail time or arrest
- Failed mortgage payments (which can lead to home eviction)
- Loss of parental rights
Such events can also occur in people without addiction problems, but the risk becomes increasingly higher when an individual suffers from substance abuse. Before you approach someone who you believe has an addiction, determine if these problems are caused by a single incident or a growing addiction problem.
How you can help someone who’s struggling with addiction
Offering your help to an addict is not always the easiest to do. But as a concerned friend or family member, there are a number of ways you can help someone with an addiction problem.
1. Understand that they might not see their addiction as a problem.
A person who has an addiction problem might not view their drug use as an issue. They may even downplay the side effects of their addiction. But understand that addiction drives even the best people to make bad decisions. Be honest, upfront, and considerate when approaching your loved one about their drug use.
Explain to them that their drug use is a serious issue and it’s not always too late to ask for help.
2. Open up your concerns about them.
They might not be worried about their health or their future but explain to them that you are. Share your concerns about their drug use and explain to them how much you care about them. Be positive and let them know you’re there for them at all times. After all, a strong support system is the first step towards recovering successfully from addiction.
3. Don’t use emotional appeals.
Guilt-tripping someone who suffers from addiction is a recipe for disaster. Instead of feeling guilty about their actions, they may feel resentful and refuse your future attempts at helping them recover. Approach them in a comforting manner and encourage them to ask for help when they need it.
4. Encourage them to undergo rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation is the first step towards living a clean and drug-free life. Encourage your loved one to undergo rehabilitation and explain to them how it can help them regain control of their life. There are plenty of different addiction treatment programs available that offer the emotional, mental, and physical support an addict needs to successfully overcome their bad habits. These places are not necessarily sterile buildings and can be more like resorts such as a Drug rehab center in Bali.
Finding out about someone’s drug use can sometimes be a heartbreaking experience. But understand that all is not lost and there’s still hope for them to recover. After recognizing that your loved one has an addiction problem, it’s important to take action immediately and guide them towards undergoing rehabilitation so they can right their ship and live a drug-free life once again.
About The Author:
Alex McLay is a Marketing Consultant with Calm Rehab who believes in living a healthy active lifestyle. Calm Rehab is a Bali based rehabilitation center helping people cope with their addictions using proven methods. By removing patients from temptation and distraction, the help received will support fond memories to help them move forward.