You Are Not Alone
Discovering that a family member has a substance use disorder can come as a shock. You may feel helpless. You may ask yourself: How can this have happened in my home, under my watch? You are not alone in your feelings or your questions.
Drug and alcohol addiction has affected more than 22 million American adults, about 9% of the population. Many addiction experts, professional therapists, counselors, and researchers have determined the clinical signs and symptoms of this devastating disorder. In addition to physical symptoms, you can look for subtle signifiers that may point to a loved one’s struggles with substance use. Being aware of changes in emotional and physical states may mitigate the chance for serious injuries, long-term addiction, and untimely death.
5 Signs of Drug and Alcohol Abuse or Addiction
1. Withdrawal and Isolation. Although it may not be the first pattern you observe, a loved one’s withdrawal from activities they used to enjoy may be a sign of dependency. You might see a general disengagement in activities or an overt and consistent avoidance of social situations. These self-isolating behaviors will only feed a substance use disorder and may lead to depression and anxiety disorders.
2. Change in Sleeping Habits. Drugs and alcohol wreak havoc on the body’s ability to fall and stay asleep; they also affect the body’s REM cycles of sleep, which are critical for cell recovery, brain health, and immune system stability. Some substances, such as alcohol and opioids, cause excessive sleep. Other drugs may cause extended wakeful periods followed by a hard, long crash of oversleeping and depression. If you are able, observe your loved one’s sleeping patterns to help decide the next course of action.
3. Mood Swings. Flooding the body with chemical substances not only affects the brain’s ability to make sound decisions, but also may significantly alter a person’s emotional stability. You may notice patterns of abnormal emotional behavior and erratic outbursts. Radically opposing moods may surface with or without warning or particular triggers. If you notice frequent and unusual mood swings in your loved one, seek professional guidance.
4. Physical Symptoms. Look for dilated or pinpointed pupils, excessive itching, bloodshot or red eyes, extreme loss of weight, sniffling, insomnia, slurred speech, injection site marks on the skin (often in the arm or leg creases, or between toes), and changes in skin tone, as these all may be signs of potential concern. Contact a medical professional or counselor if a loved one is noticeably showing any of these symptoms of addiction or abuse.
5. Risky Behaviors. Drugs and alcohol dramatically affect our ability to discern right from wrong, or a safe decision from one that may cause harm. Your loved one may lose their ability to make sound judgments and partake in high-risk behaviors, including faking medical conditions for prescription drug access or lying about finances to afford their substance/s of choice.
Living with someone you love who is suffering from addiction can be traumatic and isolating, but by understanding the early signs of drug and alcohol abuse, you may be able to intervene and help your loved one get the help they need.
We Can Help
Great Oaks offers a comprehensive and individualized addiction treatment program to ensure that your loved one will have all the tools they need to sustain a sober lifestyle. Please feel free to contact us at any time with your concerns or if you have any questions about our facility or services. We are here for you and your loved ones.