Addiction is an illness that affects many people in America and naturally, it also impacts their loved ones. For this reason, it is often more productive for individuals and others close to them to seek alcohol or drug rehabilitation programs as a family unit, where everyone’s needs are addressed. However, before it is possible to get to the stage where an individual accepts they need to attend a drug or alcohol rehab center, either someone close to them or the person themselves has to identify the problem exists.
There are many different types of addiction including drugs and alcohol although they all share common characteristics. One of these characteristics is to attempt to conceal addictive behavior from others. While each individual will display addiction is varying ways, there are common signs a person’s behavior is beyond their control. Addiction is marked by a compulsion to abuse substances that goes far beyond personal choice and although slight in some people, the personality changes most exhibit can often signal that they have the illness.
Following are the most common signs of addictive behavior that should act as red flags that a loved one needs to seek alcohol or drug addiction treatment:
Noticeable fluctuations in mood: People with addiction often appear to be slightly off-form or not entirely themselves. Due to the potent nature of drugs and alcohol and how they affect the brain to create pleasurable effects, individuals abusing substances can exhibit wildly varying moods which appear to be out of character.
Changes in sleep patterns and energy levels: People abusing drugs or alcohol can appear to be extremely lethargic or fatigued for a few hours and then suddenly burst into action with a burst of energy as if from nowhere. People using stimulants such as cocaine are likely to have interrupted sleep patterns, particularly if they have started to experience cravings for the drug when they stop using.
Secretive or evasive behavior: People struggling with addiction can sometimes go to great lengths to conceal their substance abuse. It is not unusual to encounter bottles of alcohol stashed in unusual places or drug paraphernalia left lying around after use. Asking someone about why they appear to be acting in unusual ways often elicits vague or evasive responses and could signal they need to attend an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program.
Unexplainable weight gain or loss: Substances like alcohol and drugs interfere with a person’s metabolism. This means they are likely to eat more or less than they usually do and will burn calories at a faster or slower rate.
Frequent absences from work or other obligations: A person with addiction is likely to become unreliable and may often miss work or school. They could be experiencing hangovers after an alcohol binge or caring less about their responsibilities in favor of continuing to abuse substances. Seeking alcohol or drug addiction treatment at the earliest time can prevent people from causing significant problems at home, school or work through addictive behavior.
Loss of interest in activities that they used to enjoy: Addiction is an illness that is time-consuming and the more a person becomes dependent on drugs or alcohol, the more it will increase in priority in their lives. People often lose interest in hobbies, pastimes or activities they formerly had great interest in when they are in the grips of the compulsive nature of addiction.
Hanging out with different people and visiting different places: Along with the behavioral changes a person with addiction displays, they will also mix with different people and visit places they may never have shown interest in before. When people are abusing substances, they are often sucked into the world of addiction as they seek to procure more drugs or alcohol. This means they mix with others who are routinely abusing substances, enabling all participants to continue this negative behavior.
Unusual changes in appearance or attitude: As addiction takes its hold on a person, they may start to lose interest in their appearance and even personal hygiene. Some people who have started hanging out with different crowds may change the clothes they wear in order to fit in with their new “friends”. If a normally placid person suddenly becomes cocksure and unpleasant, addiction could be the reason.
Valuables start to mysteriously disappear: Substance abuse is an expensive illness that requires financing, even when the person may not have the means to pay for drugs or alcohol themselves. The compulsion to use is likely to be so powerful that some will resort to thieving from loved ones or friends in order to secure their next fix. It is not uncommon for people to get into debt when they have an addiction.
What to Do If a Loved One Is Struggling With Addiction
The most important thing to bear in mind if you feel a loved one is struggling with drugs or alcohol use is that they have not made a lifestyle choice. Although the first few times a person uses alcohol or drugs are invariably voluntary, once addiction illness has developed, they no longer have a choice in the matter. The compulsion to use is driven by extremely unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that emerge very quickly after a person stops using, even overnight. Generally, the only way to reduce withdrawal is by taking more of the substance being abused and it is this negative cycle that characterizes addiction.
Getting the individual to accept they need help is not always easy as many may be in denial that there’s a problem at all. Intervention specialists are extremely useful in planning and executing a family meeting where the loved one can be counseled into an alcohol or drug rehab center and there are plenty of resources available to help. Once acceptance has been achieved, detox is the next stage which involves ridding the body of all influences from alcohol or drugs. This is followed by an alcohol and drug rehabilitation program, which should always be structured to the individual needs of the patient for the most effective recovery outcomes.