If you suspect your loved one might be struggling with addiction challenges, you need to pay close attention to their behavior and actions. There isn’t a secret formula that you can use to decide if someone’s misusing drugs, but there are plenty of signs that may indicate substance use challenges.
Drugs can change the way your loved one looks, as well as how they act and feel. If your loved one is misusing substances, you might pick up on changes in their behavior, as well. Depending on the type of drug they’re using and how long they’ve used the substance, you may even notice psychological changes such as angry outbursts, paranoia, constant anxiety, or sudden mood swings. The key is to pay attention to any sudden and unexplained changes in their physique, mannerisms, choices, and overall behavior.
There isn’t one clear cut sign that will let you know your loved one needs treatment for substance abuse. In fact, you may notice multiple signs at the same time. For example, for intravenous drug users, you might notice that your loved one has some unusual marks on their skin, that they’re constantly isolating themselves from others, and that they seem paranoid most of the time.
To help ease your uncertainty, here are 4 key indicators you can look out for if you think your loved one might need drug addiction treatment.
#1. Their Body Starts To Look and Function Differently
When your loved one is misusing substances, changes to their physical body are one of the first signs you might notice. If your loved one is dealing with substance use challenges, they will likely prioritize their drug addiction above everyday necessities like eating, hygiene, and exercise. When they do, you may notice sudden weight loss or gain. Many substances interfere with appetite and metabolism, which can cause your loved one to eat more or burn calories at a faster rate. You might also observe:
- Skin or bodily changes such as red or glazed eyes and dilated or pinpoint pupils. You might also see burns, skin rashes, scabs, scars, and changes to their complexion.
- Poor coordination that can include a slow, staggering walk. Your loved one might also have trouble balancing themselves or standing up straight for long periods of time.
- Changes in sleeping patterns that may include sleeping too much, an inability to sleep, unusual laziness, or being awake at unusual times. You might also find your loved one sleeping at strange hours during the day.
- Odors like lingering chemical scents on their breath or clothes. Usually, substances like marijuana, meth, and cocaine can cause chemical odors that last for some time.
- Respiratory problems like a constant runny or bloody nose, a hacking cough, or an irregular heartbeat.
- Poor hygiene like not taking showers, changing clothes, or brushing their teeth.
- Other physical changes like nausea, vomiting, tremors, shaking hands and feet, needle marks on their arms, legs, or the bottom of their feet, hyperactivity, or slurred speech.
#2. They Are More Secretive Than Before
If your loved one is struggling with drug addiction, they may try to hide the habit from you. They may avoid conversations, give vague answers to questions, and hide out in their room, car, or office all day. You might also catch them telling lies, making excuses for their behavior, or rushing to change the subject when you bring up concerns related to their substance use. Your loved one might also isolate themselves from others to keep their drug use a secret. Other evasive behavior you may pick up on can include:
- Burying stashes of drugs, often in small plastic, paper or foil packages in their room, car, or throughout their house
- Concealing track marks on the skin. Your loved one might be hiding marks on their skin if they’re wearing long sleeve shirts, jackets, and pants in warmer weather
- Hiding drug accessories like needles, pipes, and small weighing scales
#3. Their Attitude and Approach to Life Changes Completely
You might not notice this right away, but when your loved one needs help with substance use challenges, they may exhibit an entirely different attitude, personality, and approach to life. You may notice that they’re more irritable and frustrated. You may also pick up on some extreme mood swings that seem sudden and random. You might see them excited, elated, and “high” one moment and find that they’re paranoid, anxious, and depressed hours later.
Your loved one might also completely change their approach to life. Instead of participating in activities they once enjoyed, they may prefer to be alone or with a certain group of “friends.” They might avoid family time, hobbies, and social events. You might even realize that they are declining invitations they would normally accept. If they’re dealing with severe substance use challenges, you may notice that they’re no longer afraid to get into legal or criminal trouble. In fact, they may start to ignore any type of caution and engage in risky, reckless behavior. They might even get into constant legal or financial difficulties which may be completely outside of their character.
When your loved one needs addiction treatment, you might notice other psychological, behavioral, and personality changes as well, which can include:
- A negative self-image
- A dismal or melancholy outlook or attitude towards life
- Lack of motivation
- Apathy and carelessness
#4. They Disappear Often and Have Constant Excuses For Missing Work or School
If your loved one is struggling with addiction challenges, they may not want you to know where they’re going. So they may disappear suddenly and often. They might promise to show up to one place and intentionally go to another place. You may come to realize that they haven’t been going to their job or school. They may make up stories and excuses to explain their absence, but continue to disappear. If they do show up to a meeting or appointment, they may be late, disoriented, and confused when they arrive. You might also notice that your loved one:
- Neglects responsibilities, such as paying bills on time
- Loses track of time frequently
- Has drastic changes in their performance at work, school, extracurricular activities, or at home
- Disregards their daily and weekly routines
- Exhibits drastic changes in their energy level
Get A Loved One The Help They Need
Watching a loved one struggle with drug addiction can be frustrating, exhausting, and overwhelming at times. You want to do everything in your power to help them recover. The best and most effective thing you can do for them is to encourage them to seek out professional help and treatment. Here at Meta Addiction Treatment, we have 3 different types of outpatient recovery programs: partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and outpatient.
We customize our programs to fit your loved one’s needs. We also make sure to include a discussion of family roles and family structure in all of our programs so that we can help your loved one return to your family in a safe, healthy, and productive manner.
We don’t take the recovery process for granted. The majority of our executive team members are in active recovery so we know what it takes to recover from substance use challenges. At the same time, we acknowledge, know, and recognize that family support is a critical component of successful recovery.
We can help your loved one get the treatment they need. Call us today at (978) 776-3206 if you’re concerned about a loved one who’s struggling with addiction challenges.