Substance abuse problems affect people from all walks of life. Here are some common telltale signs that someone you love may be suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
An addiction to alcohol is known as alcoholism or alcohol dependence, and it can seriously damage your health. Alcoholism causes an intense and overwhelming urge to drink alcohol at any time of the day or night. Alcoholics will prioritize drinking alcohol over everything else in their life, and they often go to great lengths to hide their dependency.
Symptoms of alcohol addiction
Although signs of a substance abuse problem or alcohol addiction are hard to spot, here are some telltale signs to watch out for.
- Fatigue and irritability
- An unkempt, disheveled appearance that's different from normal
- Socializing with different people who drink more
- Secrecy and dishonesty
- Drinking rather than looking after the family or going to work
- Work performance and personal relationships are suffering
It's important to remember that alcohol is a substance, and alcohol dependency is a type of drug addiction. Some of the symptoms are the same, as you'll see below.
If someone is addicted to substances such as painkillers, recreational drugs, or opiates (e.g. heroin), they'll typically exhibit at least some of the symptoms below. The symptoms may be more pronounced than those associated with alcoholism, depending on the severity of the dependency and the drugs involved.
Symptoms of drug addiction
Here are some signs that your loved one may be secretly battling a drug addiction problem.
- A sudden disinterest in hobbies and activities that once interested them
- Poor performance at work
- Frequently appearing 'high' or under the influence
- Secrecy and changes in behavior
- Changes in friend groups
- Appearance changes e.g. bloodshot eyes, pale or clammy skin
- New money worries – they may be asking you for money a lot, or they're in debt
- Inability to concentrate or function without drugs
- Criminal behavior
Recovering from substance abuse
The good news is that, with the right support, it's absolutely possible for someone to recover from a substance abuse problem such as alcohol or drug addiction. What's important is that they know someone wants to help them get well.
For your loved one, the first stage of substance abuse recovery is admitting that there's a problem. Show compassion and concern, listen to them without judgment, and you'll be well on your way to helping them recover.