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What Are the Signs of Addiction?

Man in foreground pouring a drink from a liquor bottle as wife and child look on in background.
If you’re unfamiliar with addiction, you might not be able to recognize the indications of substance use disorder in a loved one. Here are a few signs your loved one might be misusing drugs or alcohol.

When a loved one has a substance use disorder, the signals aren’t always easy to identify. After all, people with alcohol or drug use disorder often become highly skilled at concealing it. Moreover, when you care deeply about someone, you are more likely to overlook qualities that seem like minor eccentricities or behavioral changes.

However, if you find yourself dismissing or attempting to justify a loved one’s increasingly erratic or troubling actions, there could be a deeper issue involved.

What are the signs of addiction?

If you suspect that a friend, partner or member of your family has an issue with addiction, here are some of the signs.

Behavioral Changes

An addiction disorder often manifests itself in the person’s actions. Some of the most common behaviors include:

  • Lack of interest in family activities. When people struggle with substance use disorder, they tend to pull away from their social and familial circles. This behavior could reflect their new lifestyle choices (brushing off a family birthday celebration because they’re at a bar) or a desire to conceal how their addiction has affected their circumstances (avoiding family gatherings because the car was repossessed).
  • Poor work performance. Skipping work or school is often a sign of an addiction disorder. Other work/school issues can include reduced work quality and combativeness with colleagues.
  • Diminished judgment. Uncharacteristic recklessness is often a sign of long-term addiction disorder because chronic substance misuse can erode impulse control. A person with an addiction disorder might also suffer from severe financial difficulties and engage in theft, fraud or other illegal activities to stay financially afloat and fund their addiction.
  • Secretiveness. If you notice a pattern of concealing basic activities (abruptly ending phone calls when you enter the room, giving vague answers to simple questions) or deliberate deception, an addiction disorder might be a cause.
  • Heightened aggression. Substance use disorders often trigger aggressive behaviors and outbursts of anger. Elevated aggression can be caused by numerous physiological and environmental factors, including sleep deprivation and elevated stress hormones.
  • Shifts in personality. Addiction disorders can lead to sometimes dramatic personality changes. Addiction disorders can lead to poor self-image, decreased motivation, irritability, reduced focus and mood fluctuations.

Physical Changes

Substance use disorder can cause significant physical changes in both the short and long terms. Here are some of the most common signs of drug and alcohol addiction.

  • Weight loss. Weight loss is extremely common in people struggling with an addiction to stimulant drugs. Dramatic, sudden weight loss could be an indication of drug misuse.
  • Injuries. People struggling with addiction often have visible injuries, sometimes from stumbling and falling while intoxicated, being assaulted, or getting into physical confrontations due to diminished impulse control and enhanced aggression. Cuts, bruises and injection site scars are extremely common.
  • Red eyes. Persistently red, bloodshot eyes often accompany chronic substance misuse. Red eyes are a side effect of certain drugs and might indicate sleep deprivation.
  • Coordination loss. Stumbling and slow reflexes are an indication of active intoxication and its after-effects.

The symptoms of substance use disorder can vary depending upon the substance being misused.

Alcohol Use Disorder Signs

  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • The smell of alcohol
  • Lowered hygiene standards

Stimulant Use Disorder Signs

  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Sleeplessness

Opioid Use Disorder Signs

  • Sleeping or nodding off during the day
  • Mood swings
  • Visible needle marks
  • Wearing long sleeves in all weather to conceal needle marks
  • Financial troubles
  • Frequently appearing ill with flu-like symptoms
  • Stealing from work, friends and/or family
  • Seeking prescription opioids illegally

Addiction Treatment at The Raleigh House

Coping with an addiction disorder is one of the most difficult challenges anyone can face. The team at The Raleigh House specializes in caring for people with substance use disorder and their families.

If you know someone who needs substance use disorder treatment, we can help. The team at The Raleigh House offers decades of experience in helping families cope with their loved ones’ addiction disorders. We offer treatment programs specifically for the families of people coping with substance use disorder. These treatments include motivational interviewingtherapeutic interventionsfamily systems therapy, and more.

If you think your loved one could be fighting an addiction disorder, please don’t hesitate to contact the team at The Raleigh House.

When you’re ready, we’re here.

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