Are you wondering if someone in your life has a problem with substance abuse? This is obviously not something you want to take lightly, but you may feel anxious about asking the question or investigating further. Drug and alcohol addiction takes thousands of lives every year. How can you tell if your loved one is abusing drugs so that you can encourage them to seek help?
Let’s Take a Look at Some of the Warning Signs of Substance Abuse
Physical Signs of Addiction
Alcohol and drug abuse have definite physical markers in most cases. Some drugs may have more acute physical signs than others. Sometimes the physical symptoms are actually a result of psychological and behavioral changes.
Bloodshot eyes or constricted pupils – the latter sign is common with heroin and opiate users. Both alcoholics and drug users may have bloodshot eyes on a regular basis.
Sudden weight loss – people struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol may experience a sudden and obvious loss of weight. The reason for this is a loss of appetite as well as simply not being interested in eating. It may also be due to nausea and vomiting.
Complexion changes – you might notice jaundice, acne and paleness on the person’s face. You might also notice bruises, scabs, or track marks in other places on their body.
Bad hygiene – a person struggling with addiction will often stop worrying about physical hygiene. They may stop bathing, brushing their teeth, or combing their hair.
Other physical changes – some less obvious physical signs include trembling or tremors, nervousness and complaining of headaches or body aches. Having a fever is also a common physical result of substance use.
Behavioral Changes As Signs of Substance Abuse
Along with physical changes as a result of drug abuse, there are often pronounced behavioral changes. In fact, behavioral changes might be one of the first things you notice, especially if you have a lot of contact with the person.
Being secretive – the person may start withdrawing from friends and family and becoming more secretive about what they’re doing and who they’re with. They may also start avoiding their loved ones and staying at home as often as possible.
Ignoring responsibilities – drug abuse can take up a lot of a person’s time. In order to allow more time for using drugs, the person may begin ignoring their responsibilities at work or school. They might also ignore basic things like cleaning their house.
Financial problems – addiction is ultimately very expensive. A person involved in substance abuse may start asking for money or selling things in order to get more money. In advanced cases, people may start stealing in order to get money for drugs. In the latter case, an addicted person might target their loved ones first.
Legal problems – in the more advanced stages of addiction, the person may find themselves in legal difficulties. This might be as a result of using illegal drugs, getting caught driving drunk, stealing to pay for their drug habit, or participating in risky behavior.
Psychological Signs of Addiction
Psychological signs of addiction are not always as noticeable compared to physical and behavioral signs. However, in some people, they can be very obvious. For example, you might notice your loved one losing interest in things they liked before or sleeping too much or not enough.
Low self-esteem – people struggling with addiction may demonstrate poor self-esteem and a lack of confidence in their abilities and looks.
No motivation – a person dealing with substance abuse may not have motivation for anything other than using. They might set goals, but make no effort to move towards them.
Mood changes – it’s very common for people addicted to drugs or alcohol to demonstrate marked mood changes. They may become irritable and aggressive for no reason. They might also swing from one mood to the other without warning.
How Addiction Therapy Can Help
If you suspect that your loved one is involved in substance abuse, it’s important that you encourage them to get help in a supportive, non-threatening way. Addiction therapy is a very effective method of treating substance use disorders. Addiction therapy is a specialized form of behavioral therapy and psychoanalysis that aims to discover the underlying reason for addictive disorders.
Doctor Howard Samuels is an addiction Therapist in Los Angeles who specializes in treating substance use disorders. Even if your loved one doesn’t want to go to rehab, going to addiction therapy can set them on the right track.