Six Warnings that Someone Has a Substance Abuse Problem

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Six Warnings that Someone Has a Substance Abuse Problem

In our society today, people publicly use drugs and alcohol. In some states, it is legal to smoke marijuana. More people drink than don’t. Public intoxication at sports events or weddings is all too common. So how do you know when a friend, work colleague, parent or neighbor is struggling with a substance abuse problem?

Here are six warning signs to watch for if you think someone you know may be experiencing dependency on drugs or alcohol:

  1. Change in Personality – Changes in a person’s normal behavior can be a sign of substance abuse or dependency. Shifts in energy, mood, and concentration may occur, as every day responsibilities become less of a priority than the need to get high.
  2. Social Withdrawal – A person who is heavily abusing substances or addicted may withdraw from family, friends and other social interaction. The effort of social interaction is too much and the desire to hide substance use too strong to overcome.
  3. Change in Daily Habits and Appearance – Personal hygiene may diminish or disappear because of a drug addiction or alcoholism. Sleeping and eating habits change, and a person may not have the desire to dress the way they used to or care about the way they look, smell or present themselves to others.
  4. Neglects Responsibilities – A dependent person may call in sick to work and neglect household chores or bills. Lack of planning can be an issue along with follow through.
  5. Blackouts and Forgetfulness – A clear indication of dependence is when a person regularly forgets events that have taken place and appears to be suffering blackouts. Frequent repeating of questions and stories also happens. Among our older friends and family, this forgetfulness can be attributed to old age or dementia, but look first to drinking and the mixing of medications with alcohol.
  6. Defensiveness – When attempting to hide addiction, abusers can become very defensive if they feel they are being questioned about their use. Be prepared to hit anger if you question an addict directly about his or her substance abuse.

If you or someone you love shows two or more of these signs, an earnest conversation about substance abuse is in order. The sooner your loved one gets help, the easier it is to make changes. If you don’t know how to talk to your loved one, seek out assistance from an addiction specialist or a professional at an evidence-based treatment center.