Recognize Drug Addiction Signs Right Away
Substance abuse is a tricky animal and it can certainly be difficult to identify drug addiction signs and symptoms before it is too late. No one really picks up a drink or a drug for the first time with the intention of becoming addicted. Depending on the drug, addiction settles in either over the course of months or years, or it happens fast. Recognize the telltale drug addiction signs before it gets too late can help prevent a world of anguish for yourself or an addicted loved one.
Addiction has been shown to actually change the physiology in an addict’s brain. The longer the addiction, the more difficult it is to reverse the negative effects. Addiction is now classified as a mental illness because it causes people to lose their ability to resist cravings. It also produces pleasurable feelings by stimulating cells in the brain’s reward center. Over time, drugs and drinking change the structure and chemical makeup of the brain.
When a Habit Becomes an Addiction
Using the example of alcohol, the transition from habit to addiction can take place over the course of years. In this case, what starts as a glass of wine with dinner can lead to three glasses of wine, which over time can lead to two bottles, which would lead to drinking in the morning. It escalates innocently enough but once a certain line is crossed, it is incredibly difficult to reverse the addiction.
With some drugs, especially opiates like heroin, addiction happens fast. You’ll hear some people say that as soon as they tried it for the first time they were hooked, because that first experience produces euphoric high that the person spends the rest of their addiction chasing. For these kinds of addictions, it’s important to identify the red flags so that help can be sought immediately. People who are prescribed opioid painkillers are especially in danger of getting hooked on stronger drugs in the same family, like heroin; with a completely innocent genesis, like getting minor surgery that required the medicine.
Signs of Addiction to Alcohol
Identifying signs of alcohol addiction in yourself can be difficult to come to terms with, but changes need to be made before negative consequences occur. Alcohol itself is directly related to close to 90,000 deaths in the U.S. alone each year.
Signs to watch for in yourself:
- You hide how much you drink
- You have told yourself many times that you won’t drink but still end up doing so
- You can’t control the amount you drink despite repeated efforts
- You engage in behavior that you regret because of drinking, or don’t remember
- You feel like drinking home alone is a better option than other activities you used to enjoy
- You drink to get through activities where drinking isn’t appropriate
Signs to watch for in a loved one:
- Hidden alcohol containers
- Anxiety or depression unless they are drinking
- Forgetfulness and confusion about things that happened
- Repeating the same things over and over
- Suddenly start brushing their teeth as soon as they get home to rid the smell of alcohol on the breath
- Drinking excessively and inappropriately
Noticeable Drug Addiction Signs
Drug addiction differs from alcohol addiction for a few reasons. First of all, it is legal to drink, but not to do drugs. Therefore, people who get addicted to drugs often sweep many behaviors under the rug. Second, there are many different kinds of drugs that a person can take, with varying effects. Be sure to watch for the following drug addiction signs:
- Secrecy and withdrawn behavior
- Stories that don’t add up
- A person’s face and eyes looking off
- Money and expensive possessions disappearing
- Lack of interest in food
- Excessive sleep
- The presence of any paraphernalia in a person’s possession, in their car, or in their house
- In the case of injectable drugs, track marks and bruising on the arms
Listen to your gut. If your intuition is telling you something is off, chances are you are probably right.
How to Talk To Someone Who May Be Addicted
This is a fragile subject that most people don’t know how to approach. When it comes to confronting an addicted loved one, timing is key. Make sure the conversation doesn’t happen in the heat of the moment or under tense circumstances because an addict will shut down or retaliate with denial and anger, and it could cause them to go get high or drunk – since that is the best way they know how to deal with their emotions.
Talk to them when they are sober, because their mind will be less clouded and they might be more open to seeing things from your point of view. Stay calm, and resist the urge to point fingers, blame, or judge them. Honesty is important here, so you need to explain to them exactly how the addiction is affecting you, and what you see it doing to them.
Finally, consider an intervention. If you feel that you have tried to tackle the problem on your own but more help is needed, you can gather up family and close friends, and maybe even a professional to intervene with the person’s behavior. An addict may need to see that more people realize they have a problem for it to truly sink in.
In addiction, time is of the essence. As days, weeks, or months go by the addict will continue down a path of destruction. Addiction will only get worse; and, for this reason it’s particularly important you recognize drug addiction signs before your loved one gets too far down the path of destruction.