Recognizing the Signs of Addiction (in Yourself or Someone You Love)

Addiction is insidious because it can be so hard to recognize. People who suffer from chemical dependency often don’t understand the full extent of their problem. Loved ones of people who suffer from addiction might not realize how bad the problem is either, especially if they don’t know much about chemical dependency. Let’s take a look at the warning signs of addiction.

Do I Have a Substance Abuse Problem?

Chemical dependency often begins with recreational drinking or drug use. It can be hard to tell when casual use has drifted into addiction, because the process is often very gradual. Do you suspect you’ve developed a dependency on drugs or alcohol? Here are some warning signs of addiction:

  • Need more. You have to keep using more of the substance to feel the same effects. Your body has developed a tolerance to your substance of choice.
  • Lose control. You no longer feel in control of your substance use. You often use more than you planned. You’ve tried to quit or cut down on your own but haven’t been able to.
  • Physical cravings.You’re using drugs or alcohol to relieve the effects of withdrawal. These physical symptoms include shaking, sweating, anxiety or irritability, nausea, vomiting, sleeplessness, restlessness, or depression.
  • Forget former hobbies. You’re no longer doing the things you used to enjoy. You’re choosing to use drugs or drink instead.
  • Obsession. If you’re not using your substance of choice, you’re thinking about using. You always make sure you have a steady supply of your favorite drink or drug, and you’ll even spend money you can’t afford on it.
  • Live dangerously. You’re taking risks while under the influence. These risks could include driving under the influence, having unprotected sex, or sharing needles.
  • Life problems. Your substance use is hurting your life. It’s causing legal problems, problems at work, or problems at home. You might even be at risk of losing your job or important relationships. Even so, you keep using anyway.
  • Substances become coping tools. You’re using drugs or alcohol to fill an emotional need, such as to cope with stress, boredom, loneliness, or grief.
  • Guilt or anxiety about substance use. Your substance use makes you feel guilty, ashamed, hopeless, anxious or humiliated. You might feel like a failure or fear rejection because of your substance use. You continue using despite these powerful feelings.

Does Your Loved One Have a Problem With Chemical Dependency?

What if it’s not you, but someone you love, who might be struggling with addiction? Here’s how you can tell if someone close to you has a problem with chemical dependency:

  • Isolation. Your loved one may be isolating him or herself in order to use drugs or alcohol. Sometimes chemically dependent people stay present physically but withdraw emotionally in order to use. Other times they physically leave the presence of their loved ones for long periods of time to go somewhere where they can use drugs or alcohol. They might lie or make excuses about where they’ve been.
  • Strapped for cash. Your loved one might be having problems coming up with money for necessary expenses, but they’ll probably always have enough for drugs or alcohol. They might deplete savings, sell valuable possessions, ask for personal loans, or even turn to crime to get money for drugs or alcohol.
  • Performance issues. Your loved one may start having problems at work or school.
  • Big life changes. Your loved one may stop hanging out with old friends and give up old hobbies. They may become accident-prone.
  • Mood swings. Your loved one may have sudden mood swings. A person in the grips of chemical dependency can go from grumpy and irritable to incredibly happy and giddy quite suddenly. Your loved one may also have unexplained bouts of paranoia or anxiety, hyperactivity, lethargy, or agitation. They may sometimes seem like an entirely different person.
  • Physical changes. You may be able to smell drugs or alcohol on your loved one, or see the signs of substance abuse, like slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils or impaired motor skills. Their sleeping or eating habits may change. They may gain or lose weight.
  • Poor hygiene. Your loved one may let themselves go in the grooming department.
  • Suspicious behavior. Your loved one may become secretive. They may become reluctant to tell you where they go or who they spend time with.
  • Legal trouble. Your loved one may start running afoul of the law, getting into fights, or hanging out with a bad crowd.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, you need help. With addiction counseling, you or your loved one can beat chemical dependency. Fortunately, most insurance companies provide coverage for rehabilitation. Call us today at 877-420-2948 for a free benefits check and to find addiction help in your area.