It can happen that an individual who is struggling with drug abuse or addiction is yet able to hide these problems from family members and friends–sometimes for a considerable length of time. However, the holiday season is a time when these problems may finally come to light, as family and friends spend time together to celebrate the year and those things they are most thankful for. Recognizing that a loved one is suffering from drug abuse or addiction problems can actually be of great help, as it can be the first step on the road to their recovery. However, this means that the individual must be willing and able to see and the warning signs.
Drug Abuse Warning Signs
Some individuals are so deep in their drug abuse problems that they are actually blind to how drugs have influenced or affected their life. In this case, family members and friends may easily spot the changes in behavior that occur as a result of drug use. However, during the busy and exciting holiday season, these changes may not be so easily seen–or correctly assigned to drug abuse. Following are some other, clear drug abuse warning signs:
● Participating in drinking or apparently celebratory behavior that gets completely out of control. Many individuals are of the opinion that it is completely normal and socially acceptable to consume alcohol during holiday parties and celebrations, and simply consuming alcohol at parties and celebrating with family and friends is not an automatic sign of drug abuse. Individuals who are suffering from drug abuse or addiction cannot actually control their alcohol or drug consumption, and will quite obviously stand out from others who can.
● Obvious attempts to cover up one’s drinking or drug use. The individual may use cologne, perfume, mouthwash or breath mints excessively in order to hide some of the signs of their alcohol or drug use.
● Using weak excuses for why one cannot come to holiday gatherings. In an attempt to avoid “being discovered” and in order to continue their drug use, many drug abusers and addicts will avoid all social occasions–giving weak excuses for why they must do so, such as wanting to catch up on their reading or feeling like a long bath and early bedtime.
● Frequently disappearing while at holiday gatherings. The individual may say that they need to run to the store to get something or check something in the car, when actually they may be going to use drugs or alcohol.
● Displaying sudden and dramatic shifts in mood or behavior. They may be happily enjoying a holiday celebration when suddenly they become sullen or even upset. They may suddenly become exceedingly drowsy or complain of a headache.
● Failing to care for oneself. If an individual is abusing or addicted to drugs their personal hygiene will deteriorate. They may stop shaving or washing their clothes, brushing their hair or teeth, or even ironing their clothes. This will be most obvious in an individual who previously had impeccable hygiene habits.
● Unusual financial distress. There is no doubt that the holiday season can be quite expensive, and some individuals may find themselves continuing to pay off holiday-related debt many months into the new year. However, sober individuals are not usually so financially hard-pressed as a result of holiday spending that they are unable to pay rent or buy food. An individual who is abusing drugs, on the other hand, may very well have great sums of money “disappearing” constantly.
If a family member or friend suspects that a loved one is suffering from drug abuse or addiction problems, they should always take immediate action to get them help. There is no need to wait until the individual suffers extensively or “hits rock bottom”, and actually in many cases drug abuse and addiction problems can be resolved more easily if addressed early on.