Signs a loved one is addicted

Signs a loved one is addicted - Centres for Health and Healing

Your loved one is displaying frightening changes to their personality or behaviour that have you concerned that they’re struggling with an addiction. Or, maybe they’ve battled addiction in the past and you’re concerned that they’ve relapsed.  

It’s important to recognize common signs of addiction so that you can offer support and encouragement to help them with their recovery. While individuals with addiction must make the choice to stop misusing or abusing substances, having the support of someone who cares about them can provide the help and motivation they need to stop using.

Here are some of the most prevalent signs that someone is struggling with an addiction.

They’re Struggling at Work, School, or Life in General

Struggling at work - Centres for Health and Healing

Difficulties at work or school can be related to addiction. When you’re addicted to a substance, obtaining and using the substance becomes your primary focus. They don’t have the energy, time, or resources to perform as expected at school or work.

Or, they may be neglecting their personal and family responsibilities. An individual who was formerly devoted to their spouse and kids may no longer want to spend time with them.

Legal or financial troubles are another indication that addiction may be disrupting their life.

There are Signs of Addiction in Their Homes

Hidden alcohol - Centres for Health and Healing

A person’s home usually offers some indication that they’re struggling with addiction. Perhaps they have a stash (usually hidden) of drugs or alcohol. Or, you might spot drug paraphernalia.

If you live with the person, be on the lookout for money, medications, or alcohol that suddenly go missing.

Observe the person for secretive behaviour or unexplained lateness or absences that they only have a vague explanation for. Most individuals try to hide their addictions to some degree, making it difficult for you to know for sure that there’s a problem.

Physical Signs of Addiction

Alcohol smell - Centres for Health and Healing

Individuals who are in the throes of addiction usually exhibit physical signs of addiction.

Some are obvious, like track marks in their arms or smelling like alcohol or their preferred drug. Red or bloodshot eyes, sudden weight loss, unexplained changes in their energy levels, physical weakness, and bruising are all common signs of addiction.

They may keep odd hours (like sleeping all day and staying up all night) or appear dirty and unkempt. People with addiction may struggle to take care of themselves and maintain their personal hygiene.

Their Social Interactions

Bad social interactions - Centres for Health and Healing

Frequently, individuals with addiction struggle to maintain healthy relationships with their friends and family members. They may be unusually confrontational and seem like they want to argue over things that are seemingly small.

People with addiction may exhibit a lack of inhibition. While this isn’t always a sign of addiction, if the behaviour isn’t how the individual usually acts, this likely means something is amiss.

You might notice that they avoid conversing with their loved ones. They might avoid eye contact and keep to themselves. Or, if they try to engage with people, they often struggle to hold an actual conversation.

It’s not uncommon for an addicted person to exhibit signs of low self-confidence and self-esteem. Individuals fighting addiction often stop doing the activities and hobbies that they used to enjoy. Their addiction is consuming their whole life and they have little motivation to pursue other things that used to make them happy.

How to Address a Loved One’s Addiction Struggles

Addressing a loved ones addiction struggles - Centres for Health and Healing

If your loved one is displaying signs of addiction, it’s essential to offer your support. They may not know how to stop their addiction or lack the motivation and resources to stop their substance abuse. When dealing with a loved one’s addiction, it’s essential to execute your actions carefully to avoid alienating them.

Create a Plan

Check with their other friends and family members to see if they think anything is amiss. Only discuss these issues with people who you trust, and you believe truly have the addicted person’s best interests at heart.

For example, if a close friend or romantic partner is also struggling with addiction, they’re unlikely to show concern over your loved one’s substance misuse.

Discuss ways to address your loved one’s addiction with these trusted individuals. You may need to spend some time exploring their options and researching alternatives that will allow them to manage their addiction.

Consider consulting with a community organization or local addiction centre to help them get the care they need.

Discuss Your Concerns

Once you know how you can help your loved one with their addiction, set aside time to calmly confront them with your concerns. Be aware that they’re likely going to argue with you or exhibit some type of emotional response.

Keep a calm, collected manner during your conversation. During your conversation, avoid attacking the person. Instead, focus on their addiction and how to treat the addiction.

Try to have the conversation when you know the person will be sober and when you know you’ll have time and energy to talk to them. It can be physically and emotionally draining trying to help someone who’s addicted; make sure that you tend to your needs so that you can better help the addicted person.

Instead of accusing the person of having an addiction, focus on conveying your concerns in a non-judgmental way. Offer compassion and understanding and give them a chance to respond.

Know that they might not be ready to offer an immediate response. Give them time and space after your conversation to process their thoughts. Knowing how to spot the signs of addiction is the first step to helping your loved one.

Addicted individuals are more likely to recover and effectively manage their addictions with the compassion and support of their loved ones.

If you need more help managing your loved one’s addiction, contact one of our addiction specialists who will be able to help.

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