Living with a loved one who has an issue with substance abuse can be draining, but sometimes that “inconvenient habit” can turn dangerous. When your loved one’s addiction starts to get out of hand it can be worrying, but it’s important to take a step back and assess the situation carefully prior to acting. There are several warning signs to look for when a friend or relative may need treatment for their addiction.
It’s important to remember that addiction, however, is not a one size fits all issue. While some addicts may exhibit all of the warning signs, others can display few or none if they are able to keep things hidden. Overall, the most common signs to look for are:
- Shifting Mood – Many addictive substances can have mood altering properties and can result in an addict’s state changing rapidly and seemingly unexpectedly. In addition to behavior, if you have been noticing a change in energy levels (energetic and active one moment after a previous bout of lethargy) then this could be a warning sign of addiction to a stimulant such as cocaine or a depressant like benzodiazepines.
- Change in Appearance – Addiction can create a shift in behavior and priorities in an addict, including how they spend their money and the way they dress. Occasionally this will result in an altered wardrobe meant to help them fit into a new crowd. More noticeable is a fluctuation in size, as some substances may impact the addict’s metabolism making them burn calories more rapidly. Or, on the other end, they might find themselves with an increased appetite that causes a sudden weight gain.
- Frequent and Unexplained Absences – Addicts may miss out on appointments, work, or school due to feeling sick, losing track of time, or becoming genuinely disinterested in things that had once been important. Additionally, these disappearances can be the result of an addict spending their time elsewhere to indulge in their negative behavior patterns.
- Secretiveness and Lying – Most of the time those with substance abuse issues are very secretive about their behavior, going to lengths to hide it from others. This can result in the unexplained disappearances listed above and outright lying to cover their tracks.
After taking time to assess the situation and deciding that your loved one does indeed need help, it’s important to seek out guidance on how to approach the subject. Outright confrontation can backfire if not done properly. Seeking help from an addiction counselor can be beneficial as they will typically have advice on how to present your concerns to your loved one without making them feel attacked.
Remember that understanding, patience, and support are important tools to have to guide your loved one on the path to recovery. Call Ridgeview Today at (626) 254-7900 or visit www.ridgeviewranchca.org for help or to answer your questions. We’re here for you!