46% of Americans reported having a friend or family member that has dealt with addiction. This is an epidemic that has been sweeping our nation for years, and it can be scary to see your loved one suffering.
Are you concerned that someone you love may be dealing with an addiction? Whether you have already seen some questionable behaviors from them or not, it can be hard to know if someone acting differently is part of addiction or if it might be another issue altogether.
If you’re curious about what the main things to look for are, we are going to talk about what you need to be on the lookout for. If you notice more than one or two of these happening to your loved one, that’s a big indication that more help may be needed.
Table of Contents
- Keep Reading as we Dive into 15 of the Most Common Signs of Addiction Out There
- 1. Physical Changes
- 2. Difficulty With Normal Responsibilities
- 3. Sleeping Pattern Changes
- 4. Isolating
- 5. Eating Pattern Changes
- 6. Unable to Keep up With Social Life
- 7. Increase in “Emergencies”
- 8. Needing Money Often
- 9. Spending Time Away From Home
- 10. Becoming Defensive
- 11. Unexplainable Mood Shifts
- 12. Increased Health Problems
- 13. Lying or Stealing
- 14. Promising to Quit
- 15. Risk Taking and Impulsiveness
- Understanding the Signs of Addiction
Keep Reading as we Dive into 15 of the Most Common Signs of Addiction Out There
1. Physical Changes
People that are experiencing an active addiction will show changes in their weight, overall figure, and complexion over time. Heavy use of some drugs may cause a dramatic weight loss, while heavy use of alcohol could cause a dramatic weight gain.
You may also notice puffy skin, redness/paleness in the face, or bloodshot eyes. People that are starting to develop an addiction or have been a user for some time also have an odor that often comes from their skin, which could be recognizable on the skin itself or on the person’s clothing.
Another sign is if the person doesn’t seem to care that they have gained or lost weight, as well as if the person has less regard for personal hygiene.
2. Difficulty With Normal Responsibilities
One of the signs of drug addiction that is often noticed first is that the person stops going to school or work as they normally would. They may no longer participate in hobbies they used to enjoy, or they might not wake up or go to bed at normal hours.
Other things, like forgetting to feed pets, not paying bills, and forgetting to bathe, are also signs that the person is developing an addiction (especially if multiple examples of this are present at a time).
3. Sleeping Pattern Changes
Whenever a person’s sleeping pattern drastically changes, it may be a sign that they have an addiction. They might be sleeping in more often, staying up until odd hours, or not even sleeping hardly at all.
A few days of a different sleeping pattern shouldn’t be a real cause for concern, but if it starts to become a common occurrence, this can be a sign of various drug addictions. Not only is this not healthy for their physical health, but it can also take a toll on their mental health if they aren’t getting enough high-quality sleep.
There is nothing wrong with requesting time alone from time to time, especially for a well-adjusted adult. However, wanting to spend excessive time alone behind closed doors can be a sign of addiction.
One of the signs of opioid addiction, for example, that you may want to look out for is choosing to spend large amounts of time in dark rooms or bathrooms without any breaks. If you notice someone doing this consistently, it’s worth discussing what is happening and noting their reaction.
Keep in mind that isolation can also be a sign of mental health problems, including depression, so any abnormal isolation is worth taking a second look at in those that you care about.
5. Eating Pattern Changes
Most people have at least a mostly normal eating schedule.
As addiction takes over a person’s life, however, meals become less of a priority. Some people will just eat whatever they have available to them while others will stop eating almost entirely. As you can likely assume, both of these situations can lead to serious health problems over time.
6. Unable to Keep up With Social Life
If the person you love has had social relationships in the past but is suddenly no longer interested in spending time with them, this is a red flag. You may have also noticed that they have become friends with people that seem very secretive or aren’t trustworthy.
They often start to hang out with people that enjoy these unhealthy habits as well, but more importantly, they are looking for new friends that help support their addiction, mood changes, and impulsiveness.
In either situation, this is a sign that they are no longer prioritizing these relationships and are likely focusing on their using habits instead if their addiction is active.
7. Increase in “Emergencies”
You may hear stories about the person losing their job suddenly, being kicked out of their apartment, or even getting robbed. While these may be true statements, an increase in these sorts of emergency situations is not normal. If these things are happening, it is likely as a result of the addiction.
Addicted people may also shut down when someone tries to ask more questions about these scenarios. This could be a sign that they are not telling the truth or don’t want to admit the truth about what actually has happened.
If someone is contacting you often to get help with these stressful emergencies, it may be a sign that they are dealing with an addiction and are struggling to care for themselves.
8. Needing Money Often
This is another huge indication that someone is dealing with addiction because they may have been neglecting other responsibilities and no longer have the funds to support the habit.
While things do come up in life where people need assistance, you may notice your loved one asking for strange amounts of money or money for things that don’t really make sense.
For instance, if someone is asking for an amount like $23 instead of $20, this may be a sign that they are trying to get just enough to cover transaction fees to pull money from an ATM and also pay for their substances.
9. Spending Time Away From Home
Have you noticed the person leaving home to go do something and then coming back without having done that thing? Perhaps they were going to go to the grocery store for milk, but they didn’t come back with milk or any groceries at all.
Staying out for long or abnormal hours is also a sign that addiction may be taking hold. You might notice that they take walks at strange times or perhaps are taking cigarette breaks more frequently.
These are all signs of drug addiction to look out for, especially in the early stages.
10. Becoming Defensive
If you’ve never had a substance problem before, you likely are unaware of how guilty a person dealing with an addiction may feel. As a person gets questioned based on their actions or decisions, they may start to get defensive or even patronizing as a result of this guilt.
Is the person you care about explaining excuses with too much detail or getting upset when you ask them about something that happened? This warrants taking a closer look.
If you notice that shame is coming up often in your conversations, you might want to visit this site to learn more about what options you may have going forward.
11. Unexplainable Mood Shifts
Chronic use of substances will change a person’s mood and behaviors dramatically. As a person experiences the highs and lows of addiction, this will come out in interactions with other people.
You may notice, for instance, that a person that drinks heavily is in a good mood when they first start drinking for the day, but as it progresses, they become more aggressive or guarded until they are simply unpleasant to be around.
Additionally, as people battle their emotions the next day after using alcohol or drugs, they could be increasingly irritable.
Try to be supportive and remain calm when someone is experiencing erratic mood changes. This will help to defuse the situation. If necessary, you may want to leave the person alone if they start to become physically reactive.
12. Increased Health Problems
There are many things that, over time, will start to show up as physical symptoms of addiction. These are different from physical changes in that these are health problems that may lead to more hospital visits or even more use of certain medications.
Some health problems that may come up as a result of addiction include:
- Memory loss
If you’re noticing any physical symptoms that appear to be severe, it’s wise to get your loved one assessed by a medical professional.
13. Lying or Stealing
Addicted people will often do whatever they can to continue using, and this may mean they need to lie or steal from loved ones.
For instance, you might find things missing around the home, such as money or valuable items, that doesn’t make sense to have missing. You may also catch your loved one in a lie if they are trying to backtrack or explain themselves out of a situation.
Drug and alcohol addiction is an expensive habit to keep up with. As people get desperate for extra cash, they may take desperate actions as well.
Remember that even if the person is making these choices due to their addiction, they still need to take responsibility for their decisions. You cannot take the blame for things that they do, especially if they are an adult, and you have to remember that their behavior doesn’t lie on your shoulders.
14. Promising to Quit
Exposure to drugs and alcohol for a long period of time will change the brain’s mechanisms. This leads to powerful cravings and irreparable damage over time.
Many people that are addicted know that they are not doing their bodies and brains any favor with their addiction, but it’s incredibly difficult to quit as a result of these serious cravings. Even so, they may continue to promise again and again that they are going to quit.
The force of will alone is often not enough to quit, and getting help from professionals is likely going to be necessary. There are addiction specialists trained to help people like your loved one understand their addiction better, learn how to recover, and maintain recovery over time.
15. Risk Taking and Impulsiveness
A big sign of addiction is taking more risks than normal. This might include things like unprotected sex, driving under the influence, or fighting in public.
You may also notice that they are spending excessive amounts of money, which might be a sign of a drug, alcohol, or gambling addiction.
Over time, the person with the addiction may start to use more and more of their substance of choice, which can also be considered a risk-taking behavior. This is a sign of an active addiction that is currently impacting the pleasure center of the brain.
Understanding the Signs of Addiction
While the signs of addiction are not always blatantly obvious, if you ever have a suspicion that someone you love is abusing substances, it’s important to take action.
Be supportive and show that you care, but also make sure that they are taking responsibility for their own actions. Remember that you cannot force them to get help, but once they are ready to take the next steps, ensure that they know you’re there for them.
Did you like this article? If so, be sure to take a look at the rest of our site for additional tips that may help when you suspect an addiction.