You have probably been wondering for a while, but until you hear them admit it, you can’t tell for sure. Recognizing the early signs of drug addiction can save many lives. However, knowing if someone has an addiction problem is not as easy as it sounds. The chances of your loved one admitting the problem are one in a million. In fact, even if they admit it at some point, statistics show that only 11.2% of 23.5 million people with substance abuse problem received treatment at a specialty facility.
Breaking the cycle of denial can be hard, but once you figure out your loved one is in a dangerous place, you can do your best to help them. Many times, we think our loved ones are safe until we hear the heartbreaking news of a car accident due to a drug overdose. Recognizing these early signs of drug addiction will help your loved one recover. We say ‘early signs’ since the line between casual use, use for fun, abuse and addiction is very thin, so the sooner you notice the problem, the better. Some of the signs of one’s addiction are subtle, or you just can’t understand why he/she behaves that way.
#1 Sudden Changes in Behavior
Your loved one has changed. You start to notice they:
- don’t share the same interests as they used to
- don’t care about their family life, school, or work as they did
- all of a sudden, they stop caring about their favorite things, hobbies, and interests
- start to lie, intensively
- are never home and never participate in family activities
- have new friends, hang out with the same people all the time, or want privacy. There is this ‘one friend’ constantly calling them
- don’t listen to you when you speak and avoid eye contact
- make false promises
- get angry or nervous every time you ask about their behavior, where they have been, where they are going, who are they with…
- spend a lot (A LOT) of money. Addiction will probably drain your finances, so please beware. When they say they need more and more money from you to cover personal business, please know this it the first sign they are going deeper into addiction. They can’t keep money in their pockets even if they work full-time.
- are always on the road, going somewhere and car mileage is sky high
- always make excuses when you need to do things together as a family, or just when it comes to random situations in regular life
- you’ll notice irritability, sudden mood swings, sudden oversensitivity, instant change from grumpy to happy
- being very secretive and not giving clear answers to your questions
- often forget what you’ve discussed or what they were supposed to do
- friends and family tell you that your loved one borrows money without returning it
- either isolate themselves or are gone for a few days without telling you where they go
- they might blame you for everything wrong happening in their lives
- start to have problems with the law
#2 Sudden Changes in Physical Appearance
At the time progresses, the changes in physical appearance become more and more noticeable. Drug addiction is a serious condition that overtakes the person’s life. You’ll notice sudden lack of hygiene, strange body odors, which also depends on the type of drug. Other physical signs include:
- Dilated (enlarged) pupils
- Red eyes and runny nose, nosebleeds and sniffing
- Sudden weight gain or weight loss
- Shakes, tremor, itching
- Slurred speech
- Bags under eyes
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Thinning Hair
- Unusual skin color
- Poor coordination
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#3 Sudden Changes in Sleeping Habits
The person that is addicted to drugs experiences sudden changes in sleeping habits. Mostly, this depends on the type of drug one uses and can cause sleepiness during the day and insomnia during the night. For example, methamphetamine can cause sleepiness for days and even weeks in a specific period. Cocaine causes sleeplessness and heroin causes a dreamlike state when the person looks sleepy all the time and have periods of insomnia. What you should look for is a person doesn’t have the regular sleeping pattern, wakes up in the middle of the night or sleeps longer than normal.
#4 Evidence of Drug Addiction
To prove you loved one that you are fully aware of their drug addiction by submitting some evidence you’ve found might lead to a confession. After a while, you might find rolling papers, matches, pipes, empty bottles, syringes, needles or spoons. Finding an unusual object at unusual, hidden places is the final clue your loved one is struggling with drug addiction.
If your friends start to suspect, notice some of these signs and say something to you, please pay attention, they are probably right. Sometimes, we are blind when it comes to our loved ones. Many people confuse addiction with their loved one having an affair. And the chances of you finding out your loved one is addicted – in some cases- are very low.
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Just look for a happy person that wanted to go everywhere, do many things – at the beginning, the drug causes this state. And then, look for sudden changes. The person starts to be very secretive, acts weird, locks his/her phone with a passcode, there is always one person calling them. They get into many car accidents because they have ‘accidentally’ fallen asleep.
What’s the Next Step?
These signs are general but will give you a picture of an addicted person’s behavior. Even though you notice some of these signs of drug addiction, you still might be on the fence what triggers your loved one’s unusual behavior. You probably wonder what to do next, how to approach the person and have them admit they are addicted to drugs. The first thing is to inform yourself on drug addiction, how it works, how it affects the body, what is a typical behavior of an addicted loved one, and where to look for help. Now, this is really important. You can’t do this by yourself. You’ll need as much help and support that you can get from your closest friends and family.
But first, you need to calm down and take a closer look. Many addicts are cautious in leaving traces and will hide their behavior well, so you need to look a step further. If you don’t find any clues around the house, try checking their bank accounts, money withdrawal (if possible), browsing history (which will probably be erased), or just try to locate them. If they spend an hour or two driving to a distant location (for example an industrial zone, or abandoned place) to just pick something up, and then leave after a few minutes, your intuition is not fooling you. Your loved one will lie if you confront him/her about the things you’ve discovered. Especially if you confront them without evidence.
You’ll Need Help as Well
Regardless of your loved one’s confession, you need to prepare yourself. The struggle starts the moment you found out. When it comes to drug addiction, you should ask for help at a support group, that will advise you on your options. You’ll feel good to know there are people that support you and understand what you’re going through. It can be great if you convince the addicted loved one see a medical professional for substance abuse evaluation and have the talk for treatment. If you see the loved one is in denial even after you point out all of these things, and the signs of drug addiction are deepening, they are missing for days, gets into several accidents, it might be time to conduct an intervention and discuss treatment.
For more information please call our Addiction Treatment Helpline at (844) 439-4765. This is a Free and completely confidential call. We are available 24/7. In many cases, your health insurance company will cover 100% of the treatment cost. So please call now.