Generally speaking, when someone is battling an addiction, not many people know about it. Addiction, with its many surrounding stereotypes and myths, is often a taboo topic for many people, and those struggling with substance abuse often refrain from telling their loved ones about it because of these misconceptions.

However, signs of addiction may begin to present themselves if your loved one is struggling. By learning what the more common signs of addiction are, you can become more educated on the topic of addiction and more confident in getting your loved one the help they may need.

Signs of addiction

Oftentimes, the signs of addiction are subtle at the beginning, but develop into more severe concerns as the disease progresses. Some of the more common signs of addiction, physical and mental, include:

  • Increased, hyperactivity or decreased, lack of energy (depending on substance type)
  • Excessive sniffly or running nose
  • Dilated or red eyes
  • Uncharacteristic irritability or defensiveness
  • Denial or minimizing of any problems when addressed about the possibility of substance use
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Abnormal eating habits
  • Seemingly undernourished or sickly appearance
  • Decreased attentiveness to personal appearance/hygiene

It’s important to note that just because your loved one is showing signs like a runny nose and red eyes does not immediately indicate a substance use disorder — these signs are also associated with a cold or illness of some kind. However, it is when these signs are noticed in conjunction with behavioral changes that a greater concern for addiction may be present.

Common behaviors connected to addiction

Not everyone who struggles with addiction will display all these behaviors, and some struggling with substance abuse may show other behaviors in addition to the ones listed below. Because addiction plays out differently in each individual’s life, it’s important to familiarize yourself with some of the more common behaviors in order to get them the help they need when they need it.

1. Repeated attempts to quit

An individual who repeatedly and unsuccessfully attempts to quit drinking or using drugs may be struggling with substance abuse habits. By announcing their desire to quit using substances, they’re signaling to you that they are aware of their problem, which may give a false sense of them being in control of it.

If they are open about their struggle, but you notice them repeatedly trying to quit without success, the substance use may no longer be a bad habit, but rather, an addiction. It may be time, once they’ve failed numerous times to quit, to have a conversation with your loved one about finding someone who can help them quit for good.

2. Self-medicating

An individual using drugs or alcohol after expressing feelings of stress, depression or anxiety can be an indicator of addiction. Using mood-altering substances to deal with life’s difficulties may mean your loved one is struggling to handle their emotions and the feelings connected to stressors in their life.

We all feel the burden of stress in our life, but the important thing is to learn how to control it, and not let it control us. Meeting with a therapist is a great way to learn new methods of coping which can help minimize or extinguish the habit of substance use to cope with anxiety, depression or stress.

3. Using, but not enjoying, substances

If a person has indicated that they don’t enjoy using their substance of choice anymore, but continue to do so anyway, it’s likely that they’re struggling to quit or are only using substances to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay. Drugs and alcohol can rewire the brain, requiring individuals to continue to use substances even once they lose their desire to or have experienced negative consequences because of their use.

4. Lacking control

Someone struggling with addiction will repeatedly show that they’re unable to limit their use. They may also drink or use drugs in inappropriate situations, regardless of the potential for punishment or negative consequences. Even when the substance use is interfering with friends and family situations, work or school obligations or other responsibilities in their life, someone battling an active addiction will not be able to stop using even when they notice these negative impacts.

5. Making excuses

A person addicted to drugs or alcohol is going to prioritize satisfying their addiction over everything else, regardless of whether or not they want to make it a priority. They may miss out on family events and important work or school obligations. If an individual close to you who previously used drugs or alcohol starts making excuses to always be absent or alone, it’s possible that they’re taking advantage of that time away from everyone else to use.

Help for managing addiction-based behaviors

Learning that a family member, friend or peer is struggling with an addiction is a scary thing. The good news, however, is that treatment is not only available, but effective, and recovery is possible. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and considering treatment options, we are here to help. Contact us online or by calling us at 724-268-4858 to begin the recovery process today.