While we all know that addiction to alcohol and other drugs is a common problem, the problem becomes much more ‘real’ when it happens to our loved one.
Many people, most often the high school and college-aged, experiment with drinking and trying different drugs. This is usually considered somewhat normal or expected, but it can lead to more serious issues, including academic difficulties, career problems, criminal offenses, health complications, and addiction. All of these troubles can hound a person as they move through life, affecting their lives and the lives of those who love them. So when does experimentation or a “phase” become truly disconcerting? At what point should a parent, sibling, or other close friend worry that their loved one is in serious trouble with drug abuse? In other words, how do you know if someone is addicted to drugs?
You can look for several signs if you are worried that a loved one is possibly battling addiction. The first few signs are behavioral:
- Repeated truancy/absence from work, school, or commitments, with or without excuses
- Withdrawal from personal relationships and voluntary isolation
- Personality or attitude changes including anger, depression, and anxiety
- Secrecy or lying about money/finances and whereabouts
- Stealing money/valuables; shoplifting
- Staying in the bathroom for long periods of time at all hours
- Changes in sleeping patterns
While any one or a number of the behavior patterns listed above do not necessarily mean that your friend or family member is addicted to drugs, they can be signals for you to watch more closely.
Other signs and symptoms to look for, especially if any behaviors have raised a warning flag, include the following:
- Changes in appearance and hygiene, including weight changes, skin condition, bloodshot eyes, and enlarged or pinpointed pupils
- Drug paraphernalia such as glass or metal pipes, small foil sheets with residue, cigar wrappers, syringes, spoons with charred underside and/or residue, tiny plastic baggies, and so on
- Signs of withdrawal, such as flu-like symptoms
How do you know if someone is addicted to drugs? If your friend or a family member has tried to quit using drugs and was unable to stop entirely, or returned to using the drug after some period, it is very likely that they are addicted. This is especially true if they have experienced negative consequences and still continue to use. If you are concerned about someone you love or even about your own drug use, please reach out and speak to someone about treatment options. Recovery is possible, and a life beyond addiction is truly attainable. Don’t wait to find help!