The other day someone approached me, and asked me what to do with their teenage son who is struggling with addiction. He asked for resources and possible treatment options, but this also got me thinking about those tell tale signs that someone’s in active addiction. Regardless of the substance, and regardless of the activity, addicts have common tendencies across the board, so here’s what you should be on the look out for when trying to determine if someone is struggling with addiction.
Addicts are withdrawn around loved ones.
Being around people that care about them is terrifying for addicts because those loved ones are able to know something’s wrong more intuitively. Because of fear, the fear that they might be caught or the fear they the high will wear off, addicts will avoid long social outings and activities. These are the same activities that they used to have no problem partaking in, but now all of a sudden they’re a burden and a source of frustration. In my experience I avoided all of those that cared about me, especially the ones that knew the “real me.” I only spent time with these people if I absolutely had to, and would never go out of my way to spend too much time with my family, or my good friends.
Addict’s physical appearance deteriorates over time.
The easiest way to spot an addict is the progressive deterioration of their physical upkeep. My parents still talk about how bad I smelled in the end of my using. Depending on the substance, they will gain or loose weight, smell worse, groom less, and their outfits will be thrown together and uncoordinated. Physical signs like bags under their eyes from staying up, rashes or scabs on their skin, a dramatic loss of color in the pigmentation of their skin, dilated or constricted pupils, and a noticeable lack of energy. In the rooms of recovery, its bizarre how immediate you can spot someone fresh off a relapse or new to the rooms, they carry a presence that is very unanimated and withdrawn, to accompany the lack of hygiene upkeep.
Addicts have a noticeable change in personality or attitude.
You’ll notice the person being more extreme in a number of different directions. They’ll be more depressed, or more manic. They’ll be more offensive, or more offended. And they’ll swing from one extreme to the other on the drop of the hat. Addicts will go from extreme rage to extreme sadness, for instance, in a matter of minutes. This is in part one of the reasons that addicts change their social surroundings, in order to hide these major mood swings and avoid potential triggers for emotional stimulation. There is a lack, and a major pushing aside of emotional processing power, so addicts turn to drugs, alcohol, or addictive behaviors in order to cope with emotions that stress them out. This results in an overwhelming amount of baggage that has been pushed down over time, making an addict more irritable the more they push down.
If the addict is supported by their family, you will notice the individual is keeping their spending habits secretive and there will be an increased demand for allowances.
The same amount of money that lasted a week, now all of a sudden lasts a day, and there will be efforts made to get more funds quicker, while hiding the reasons for them. There will be obvious lies told, and a noticeable amount of details left out from the plan. They might even throw a fit if they don’t get the money they are seeking, because they need it to get high and haven’t taken on financial responsibility yet; combine this with their inability to process their emotions, they will be sure to throw a fit, or even steal the money every time.
There are plenty of signs to tell someone is struggling with addiction, and it’s important to be on the look out if you suspect something is going on with someone you care about. Odds are, if you feel like something is wrong, you’re probably right. They could be struggling with unprocessed trauma, or even an emotional time in their life; regardless of what it is, there is a noticeable change in behavior when something major is going on. Responsibilities will be neglected, their effort will be diminished, and they will withdraw from many things that seem so important before. The important thing is to go with your gut, and that’s the best advice I can give. If you feel like something is wrong, investigate it, and don’t be afraid of confronting someone you love.
Related article: Top Ten Signs of Drug Use