Recognizing an Addiction Problem: How to Understand the Signs

Did you know that the most challenging phase of helping someone with an addiction problem is not the treatment phase? According to different reports, the most difficult phase anyone aiming to assist a drug addict can endure is the recognition phase. Strange as it may sound, it is pretty difficult identifying whether an individual is, indeed, suffering from addiction or not. On the one hand, you have your gut feeling and personal conviction because of the signs you’re seeing.

On the other hand, you have the suspected addict’s denial and self-justification for the behavioral changes you’ve claimed to noticed. So, you begin to question yourself: Is she really addicted, or am I just being too judgmental? Is drinking alone alcoholism, or am I just too moral? Trust me; it can come to that. But the unfortunate fact is that you cannot even help the person if you don’t recognize their predicament, can you? Well, you need not fret too much. Irrespective of what the suspected-addict is saying or claiming, the first step to helping them is by recognizing the physical, mental, and emotional signs, like abrupt weight, changes in the types of friends, behavioral changes, and a feeling of loneliness.

Addiction and dependence

Nobody becomes addicted overnight; trust me. Addiction to anything – whether substance or behavioral – is always the result of several trials. So, if you want to confirm the alcohol or drug addiction status of that friend or loved one of yours, you only need to watch out for some of these signs below. But before we delve into the discussion of these signs, let’s first take a look at substances responsible for addiction.

According to several studies, substance addiction is dependent on any one or more of the following:

  • Nicotine or tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Inhalants
  • Drugs, illicit or non-illicit
  • Medication

So, now that we’ve highlighted the substance your suspected-addict is likely to be addicted to, let’s now go into understanding the signs

Understanding the early signs

Don’t get it twisted by thinking this is a one-shot theory. In fact, you shouldn’t be surprised if the person doesn’t show some telltale signs of a full-blown addiction at the time when you start your observation. However, some early signs to look out for include:

  • Experimentation with one or some of the substances mentioned above
  • Family history of addiction
  • Sudden love for a certain substance or activity
  • Always seeking out events, activities, or scenarios where the said substance is present
  • Often losing control and not feeling remorseful afterward.
  • Understanding the actual signs
  • Observe whether there changes in personality

After the successful completion of the experimentation phase, the person will most likely begin to show some telltale changes in his or her behaviors. Although these changes may not be constant at first, you can still tell by looking out for any of these:

  • Sudden lack of interest in things they loved doing
  • Negative reactions towards loved ones
  • Missing out on activities they formerly considered important
  • Skipping work or other vital obligations
  • Increased secrecy and self-isolation

Observe whether there changes in health

Another way to tell is by observing their mental and physical health. If indeed, they are addicted, chances are you will most likely notice some changes in their health status. Some of the warning signs include:

  • Glazed eyes or bloodshot
  • Inexplicable injuries
  • Persistent illness
  • Abrupt weight change
  • Poorly-looking skin, hair, nails, and teeth, especially when the person has been taking substances like cocaine.
  • Persistent memory loss
  • Rapid rambling
  • Aggressive reactions
  • Apathy
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Suicidal thoughts

Observe their reactions towards long-term life consequences

In the final stages of addiction, it is not uncommon to see an addict experiencing some long-term consequences of the drug they’ve been taking. But one bizarre thing you’ll notice about them is a desire to allow or ignore these side effects in favor of continuing their habits. In these scenarios, the addict will most likely prefer to live with these consequences than withdraw from their lifestyle. Such is their love and dependence on these substances. Potential long-term consequences may include:

  • Contacting infectious diseases
  • Being okay with poor grades, or at the very worst, dropping out of school
  • Broken relationships with friends and loved ones
  • Eviction from homes or failure to keep up with mortgage or debt payments
  • Jail time
  • Job loss

If you have any questions, please ask below!