The signs of oncoming addiction for your significant other or a family member can sometimes be very subtle. We want what’s best for our loved ones, but it isn’t always clear when you need to draw a line to intervene. There will probably never be an altogether “right time” when it comes to getting involved with trying to stop addiction before it takes over somebody's life. Despite this fact, there are signs of warning to look for in those who are beginning to face addiction if you’re struggling to find your line to draw.
These points might be obvious to some, but to others with a lack of experience or insight into what addiction may look like in someone will benefit from reading about signs to look for. If you think it’s time to be involved but do not personally want to take action, talk to an addiction professional, and seek help with moving forward. There are ways to help out without being in charge, but it’s going to be you who needs to take the first steps.
Identify Physical Attributes and Changes
Actual visible changes in appearance or condition are some of the simplest red flags to spot, as well as sometimes the most concerning. Like all of these signs, the symptoms demonstrated will vary depending on the type of drug being abused. Keep note of how frequently and how severe symptoms become over time and make your best judgment of whether they are drug-related or not.
Start by identifying changes that should occur over a long term period happening much quicker than what is natural. Examples include unprecedented rapid weight loss or gain, deterioration of hygiene, appetite shifts, or a fluctuating sleep pattern. Physical changes like these are bound to happen as we live our lives. Still, unless there are exceptional circumstances, they don’t tend to happen extraordinarily quickly.
Other short term physical changes that should draw attention are frequent nose bleeds, bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, impaired coordination, tremors, and unusual smells. Any of these could happen to someone when they are sick, but symptoms lasting for a prolonged period can be indicative or something more than just a temporary sickness and should be addressed immediately.
Identify Behavioral Shifts
These are signs that are more subtle and might point to signs of long term use. Deciding when to act will require close observation and an understanding of who your loved one is as a person. Keep asking yourself questions: why has this part of them changed? Looking for an interruption in a typical behavior pattern can be an insidious pointer to someone’s life being permanently altered in some of the worst cases.
Some behavioral changes to watch for include sudden lack of interest in past hobbies, losing long term friendships, a new pattern of lying, neglecting previously essential responsibilities, frequent legal trouble, and unexplained financial issues. Problems like these are notorious for setting people on the path to having their lives become consumed by a lack of control and should be addressed as soon as possible.
Most likely, as you are someone close to this person, you will be one of the first to notice these types of changes. Use your understanding perspective to decide if you think it’s time to get involved. If a line is not drawn and behavior is left unchecked either by you or the user, problems can become even more severe and life-threatening.
Recognize Psychological Change
Finally, psychological shifts likely will be the most difficult to identify as they occur. You may be one few people who can detect personality changes at all. Seek immediate attention from an expert if you observe signs such as continual extreme anxiety or paranoia, lack of usual energy and motivation, “swinging” behaviors like surges of energy and mood swings, irritability, and other general unexplained personality changes.
We highly recommend that this be where you draw the line if one has not been up to this point. If there are stages of drug addiction, psychological changes like some of the ones we have listed are most commonly some of the final steps. Providing help and support to your loved one during times like these could be the difference between life and death in the worst cases. You may be closer than you think to losing your loved one.
People do not always respond well to having other people taking direct or indirect involvement in their lives, even those closest to them. If your loved one does not react well, it’s going to be up to you to decide if you want to keep pushing back. You may have their best interests in mind, but that’s not always obvious for someone struggling with addiction. Relationships can be damaged or even lost in some of the more sensitive cases.
Addiction and addiction recovery is a physical and psychological battle that can result in loss of mental health. If someone close to you is contemplating or attempting suicide, call 911 or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK. The process of fighting addiction can be overwhelming, especially at the beginning of a long road ahead.
Once again: if you feel like you should involve a professional, you are probably right to do so. Addiction is a severe problem and shouldn’t at all be taken lightly. Somebody informed and experienced will be best suited to assist you or your loved one and find the best treatment method.