When you love someone, you would do most anything to protect them from harm. You want to support their dreams, comfort them when they fail, and celebrate them when they succeed. And that means that sitting idly by and watching a loved one get pulled further and further into the abyss by an addiction simply isn’t an option. You have to do something to help. But how do you know if your loved one is addicted to drugs? What are the signs that a loved one is addicted?

Recognizing addiction is someone you love and trust may well be the most difficult challenge you will ever face. You don’t want to assume the worst and risk alienating a person with whom you share a close bond. You want to be sure that your suspicions are sound. And yet how can you tell?

Addiction isn’t a singular, universal experience. Our assumptions about meth addiction differ from the ones we have about heroin addiction. This is because addiction is complex. Every person experiences addiction differently; you can’t expect all symptoms to manifest in exactly the same way for every person with a substance use disorder. The substance they use, how often they use it, and the severity of their addiction will determine what symptoms they experience, the intensity of the symptoms, and the expression of those symptoms.

However, despite the wide range of possible symptoms, there are some common signs of addiction that can help you detect the disorder in someone you love. Some tell-tale signs of addiction include:

  • Being evasive or secretive
  • Frequent lying
  • Mood swings
  • Changes in sleep
  • Changes in appearance

Has Your Loved One Become Evasive or Secretive?

People start recovery by admitting they have no control over their drug use. That’s the point at which they reach out for help.

This is also why a person who wants to keep using will cloak themselves in denial. They simply cannot admit to themselves or others that there is a problem because that will likely lead to pressure to stop taking drugs. A person with an addiction fears nothing more than the loss of the drug.

So, if you ask your loved one about their drug use and get nothing but denial and defensiveness in return, there may be a problem. Persons experiencing addiction will avoid answering direct questions. When they do give answers, they are often unclear and evasive. Be aware of increased secretiveness and evasion.

Has Your Loved One Been Lying?

When avoidance and evasion are no longer effective or possible, persons with addiction often move on to lying. And, they don’t just do it once. They do it all of the time.

To prevent you from blocking their drug use, they will tell you what they think you need to hear to get you to back off. This is why asking a person with an addiction about their drug use directly isn’t usually successful. They won’t be honest until they are ready to get help.

Persons experiencing addiction will also lie in other circumstances to ensure they have access to the resources they need to keep using drugs. If your loved one repeatedly comes to you with sob stories and disaster scenarios that end with a plea for money, that’s a red flag.

Persons with addiction also feel shame about their drug use, so sharing their problem with people they love and respect is terrifying. They may lie because they fear judgment or rejection from those they love.

Has Your Loved One Been Experiencing Drastic Shifts in Mood?

There are a few different reasons why people with a drug addiction experience mood swings. Obviously, the process of getting high, coming down, recovering from any ill effects, and getting high again means that a lot of emotional, psychological, and physiological states are being rapidly cycled through. A person who is actively high won’t act the same way that they do when withdrawal symptoms are occurring.

People who use drugs are also twice as likely as the general population to be diagnosed with an anxiety or mood disorder. This means your loved one may have both a mental illness and an addiction active at the same time. This can certainly lead to erratic behavior. In some instances, drug use can even cause a mental disorder, like psychosis.

Has Your Loved One Been Sleeping Considerably Less or More Than Usual?

Drug addiction has a huge impact on a person’s energy level. The cycles that lead to mood swings also contribute to fatigue and mania. The type of substance being misused will also determine how the changes in sleep manifest. A stimulant user will spend a great deal more time awake than an average person. A barbiturate user, on the other hand, will experience profound lethargy and is likely to sleep more than the average person.

If a secondary mental disorder is also present, it can affect sleep patterns. Depression often causes people to sleep too much or not enough. Anxiety, likewise, frequently prevents people from falling asleep or staying asleep.

Has Your Loved One’s Appearance Changed?

Addiction causes compulsive drug use despite the user’s awareness of the harmful consequences and in the face of their repeated vows to abstain. People who have a drug addiction, simply put, are physiologically and psychologically compelled to keep using. This shifts their thinking and their priorities, leaving previously important things like hygiene and attention to appearance forgotten. Infrequent showering, poor dental hygiene, and a generally disheveled appearance can signal a new or worsening addiction.

It is certainly possible for a person to be slovenly without a drug addiction, but a previously well-groomed person who stops caring for themselves almost certainly is developing a larger issue with their mental and/or emotional health, and chemical dependency is a likely culprit. .

If you have answered “yes” to any of the questions above, you may be identifying a pattern of addiction in a person you love. The next step is to address the issue. Many families choose to hold an intervention in an effort to not only break through their loved one’s denial but also to increase their understanding of their drug use’s impact. In an intervention, the person learns they aren’t the only one suffering.

Researching treatment options puts you in a position to not only address the drug use but to also make constructive suggestions about gaining and maintaining sobriety. It shows that you are dedicated to helping that person throughout their recovery, and that may help immeasurably.

How to Help Friends or Family Dealing with Addiction

If someone you love is experiencing addiction, there is hope. Many addiction recovery programs are designed not only to support the person experiencing the addiction, but also the friends and family members impacted by it. From addiction counseling to recovery education, these programs integrate clients and their loved ones in the healing process. Reach out today to find the program that is right for your loved one and the family who cares for them.

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