Even though the signs of addiction displayed by an individual who has been abusing drugs or alcohol can sometimes be difficult to detect, most of the time they’re behaviors or other types of changes that friends and loved ones will readily notice. At the onset of substance abuse the signs are less pronounced because the individual is still in control of a dangerous habit that’s only in its infancy. However, as the drug or alcohol abuse continues with time, those signs of abuse become more pronounced signs of addiction. In order to foster better understanding and to help those suffering from addiction before it’s too late, it’s important for us all to be familiar with some of the most common signs of substance abuse and addiction.
The signs of addiction can vary to an extent depending on which drugs or substances an individual is abusing. Even just becoming aware of some signs of physical dependence to drugs and alcohol will allow you to identify individuals who are suffering from substance abuse. So that you’re better able to help and provide support to those in need, here are some of the most common and frequent displayed signs that an individual is addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Behavioral Signs of Addiction
When an individual begins losing control of their substance abuse, one of the first things to become noticeable are the changes in behavior. A prominent behavioral change due to addiction is the increasing frequency with which these individuals neglect or shirk their responsibilities. Whether it’s not showing up for work, a spike in absences from school, or not returning home until hours later than they normally would, these individuals are more concerned about seeking and abusing alcohol or drugs than they are about their obligations and responsibilities. Especially for individuals who have children or other dependents, this can often have dire consequences for both the addicted individual and others.
Those who are addicted to alcohol or drugs will often put themselves in much more dangerous and risky situations than they would normally. This increase in reckless behavior can either be an indirect or a direct result of drug use; for example, an individual may drive a car recklessly due to being intoxicated (indirect), or they may be attempting to consume drugs or alcohol while they’re also trying to drive (direct). However, this risk-taking behavior tends to affect individuals judgment and manifest in a number of ways such as using or sharing dirty needles, having unprotected sex, committing crimes, and so on. Oftentimes these types of behavior coincide with legal troubles and maybe even getting arrested for crimes like disorderly conduct, driving under the influence, and even stealing to support a substance abuse habit.
Individuals who are addicted to drugs and alcohol while being in a relationship will often begin to experience problems in the relationship. Either the partner doesn’t support the drug habit or the individual suffering from addiction tries to hide their problem, which causes many other issues in the relationship due to having to lie, steal, sneak, and even manipulate in order to seek and abuse substances. Addiction tends to coincide with financial problems since individuals are spending all their available money supporting their habit; this can not only cause problems personally, but also for couples who live together and require both incomes to pay the bills. However, while romantic relations can oftentimes be the most directly and profoundly affected by individuals’ addiction, addiction often causes problems among friendships, relationships with family members, and even professional relationships like employers, coworkers, and business associates.
Physical Signs of Addiction
In addition to the behavioral signs, there are many physical signs of addiction. By nature, many of the physical signs tend to either accumulate over time or be more noticeable over time. When the individual is under the influence, certain physical signs like a difference in the eyes—bloodshot, unusually tiny or large pupils—in addition to slurred speech, impaired coordination, and possibly some unusual odors on the breath, body, and clothing.
Over time, individuals will often display a deterioration in their grooming, style, and personal dress; this could equate to spending less time putting themselves together, looking somewhat sloppy or unkempt, but can be as severe as wearing dirty, stained, or ripped clothing and bathing very infrequently. As the addiction becomes more severe, individuals often have very abnormal sleep patterns, sleeping either far more or far less than they would usually. Change in appetite is also a very common sign of most types of addiction, which will result in the addicted individual either looking very emaciated or gaining large amounts of weight.
Psychological Signs of Addiction
As an unfortunate side effect of addiction, there will often be many changes in an individual’s personality and emotional state that will seem inexplicable or unprovoked. Things like sudden irrational mood swings, irritability, anger, and outbursts are common of those who suffer from substance abuse. Depending on the substance that’s being abuse, addicts may sometimes exhibit periods of unusual hyperactivity, giddiness, or agitation; on the other hand, depressants can make individuals appear sullen, depressive, or lethargic. It’s also common for individuals suffering from addiction to alcohol or drugs to experience much higher levels of anxiety, which can even manifest in panic or anxiety attacks. Paranoia is not uncommon as well.
Despite there being a variety of signs that an individual is physically dependent on alcohol or drugs, the signs of addiction vary from one person to the next and will largely depend on the substance that’s being abused. Those who are addiction will typically display at least a few of the symptoms above, but could possibly display as many as most of them. However, it’s important to be aware that these are signs to use as a reference, prompting you to discuss addiction with your loved one and offer them help if they are in need; it’s possible to display some of these signs without suffering from addiction, so it’s important to be aware that these should be used as a means of understanding rather than accusing a loved one suffering from addiction.
When an individual is showing signs of being physically dependent and addiction to alcohol or drugs, they need to be aware that they have supporting family, friends, and other loved ones who want to help them to rehabilitate. There are a variety of inpatient and outpatient programs available, which are designed to provide addicts with a means of learning about addiction, identifying the contributors that have led them to physical dependence, and to obtain the skills and tools necessary to live a sober life and sustain their recovery for the long-term. Once an individual completes an inpatient or outpatient program, it’s crucial to participate in aftercare and post-treatment services such as continued counseling or Alcoholics Anonymous & Narcotics Anonymous meetings in order to maintain their recovery network while continuing their addiction education. Rehabilitation is not only possible, it’s readily attainable.
If you or someone you know are displaying these signs of addiction, Ocean Breeze Recovery is here to help. A team of knowledgeable specialists are available to help you determine when you or the ones you love are suffering from addiction and the appropriate steps to take to begin the journey of recovery. Call us today.
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