Addiction is a progressive condition and its signs and symptoms don’t develop overnight. For that reason, it can be difficult to tell when someone has started to struggle with their need to abuse drugs or alcohol. When left undetected, habitual drinking or drug taking can become progressively more serious until an individual no longer has control over their need to use.
It is at this point that they are likely to be addicted and should seek the specialist help available at drug and alcohol treatment centers.
When a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, they are unlikely to be open about the issue with those close to them. They may also become withdrawn from others as a result of feeling misunderstood or because of an unwillingness to be confronted with their behavior. Whether they seek solace in their own company or lose themselves in social drinking, the behavior of heavy drinkers and drug users has a direct and very significant effect on those around them.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the common warning signs of addiction are as follows:
- Changes in personality including mood swings
- Lack of motivation to carry out daily duties for parenting, work or college
- An individual is mixing with different people and going to new places
- Deteriorating performance at work or school and increased absenteeism
- Secretive behavior and short, defensive responses when challenged
- Sudden weight gain or weight loss
- Changes in complexion, especially in late stages, a jaundiced skin tone
- Giving up previously enjoyed hobbies and pastimes
- Shaking hands and clammy skin
- Changes in sleeping patterns
Recognizing Change is Important for Early Detection of Addiction
Addiction generally follows three stages: early, mid and late. When someone is in the early stages of addiction it is particularly difficult to notice any difference in their personality or behavior but as they pass into the second stage, they will begin to display the warning signs. This is also the optimum time for someone to seek treatment because they may still have some control over their need to use drugs or alcohol.
In many cases, it is the people close to those with addiction issues who take the first step towards getting them treatment at drug and alcohol rehab centers. However, there are still cases when an individual gets to a point in their addiction where they can no longer cope and recognize they need specialist help to combat the condition. Either way, once someone has crossed the threshold of a facility and into drug and alcohol treatment, the prospect of recovery becomes very real.
Sometimes It’s Necessary to Snoop on a Loved One
If the loved one is a child, partner or a friend living in someone’s house and they are concerned about their health and behavior, they have access to information that can help determine what’s going on. Although it’s never recommended to look through someone’s things without good reason, having a suspicion they may have addiction issues is, in extreme cases, justification enough.
Checking out spending behavior to see if there are many cash withdrawals or money spent in liquor stores is a good way of seeing what pattern of behavior a loved one has fallen into. Seeing if they are in debt and checking that they are still employed are also useful in deciding if there is a serious issue that needs dealing with.
It is also a good idea to keep a journal of a loved one’s activity to create a picture of how their behavior is changing when they have aggressive responses and even how much sleep they are getting.
Because people with addiction issues are unlikely to be in a position to volunteer any information to those close to them, it’s often necessary for family and friends to take matters into their own hands. Direct confrontation is never a good idea and can even make things much worse by threatening close personal relationships at a time when someone needs support. Although anger is a natural thing for people close to addicts to feel, it’s important to remember that they are not in control of their urges and in many respects, they are temporarily lost to addiction.
Addiction Rehab Treats the Whole Family
One of the very positive benefits of structured drug and alcohol treatment is that it often includes the loved ones of addicts with family counseling sessions. It is always difficult to communicate with a loved one on an issue as emotive as addiction and sometimes there may have been damage done to personal bonds as a direct consequence. Family counseling allows people to unravel the negative thoughts and feelings associated with addiction and set them firmly in the past. Specialized therapy will also educate family and friends on how to manage life for the years their loved one will be in recovery after addiction treatment.