The holiday season is supposed to be a time of celebration, joy, and giving.
However, the results of a 2015 Healthline survey found that most people find this time of year very stressful. There are multiple demands on everyone’s time, for one thing. The rich foods, cookies, and candies that only appear at this time of year make it challenging to stick to a balanced diet and avoid gaining at least a few pounds.
Addiction doesn’t take any time off over the holidays. These stressors, as well as trying to find the “right” gift and deal with unresolved family conflicts that continue to get played out year after year create their own kind of perfect storm where loved ones with addiction issues are more likely to turn to their drug of choice. If you keep your eyes open, you may be able to spot a loved one who is struggling with substance abuse this holiday season.
No One Is Immune to Addiction
Don’t assume that you can tell that someone is an addict by the way they dress, wear their hair, or speak. These aren’t accurate ways to tell if someone has a problem with an addictive substance.
Additionally, you can’t assume that seniors won’t develop issues with substance abuse. As we age, we are more likely to be plagued with chronic pain, anxiety, and insomnia. There are a number of medications used to treat these conditions with the potential to become addictive.
How to Spot Signs of Addiction During the Holidays
Your goal in trying to recognize signs of addiction this holiday season isn’t to “bust” someone you know and bring down shame or embarrassment on them. It should be to keep substance abuse on your radar and to reach out to offer help in a caring, compassionate manner if you see a pattern that includes a few of these signs.
• Your loved one appears physically unwell.
A person with an addiction likely isn’t going to look very healthy. They may have red or bloodshot eyes and a dull complexion.
Another sign that your loved one may have a problem with substance abuse is if he has lost or gained a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time. Some people who are abusing drugs neglect their diet and shed pounds, while people who are abusing alcohol are ingesting extra calories and may put on pounds because of it.
• He may show signs of being under the influence.
If your loved one is slurring his speech or is having trouble keeping his balance, it could be a sign that he is addicted to alcohol or a drug. Keep in mind that a person could be displaying these symptoms due to a medical condition or as the result of a severe injury, so this sign isn’t proof of a substance abuse problem on its own.
• You may not see much of your loved one at family gatherings and parties at all.
If your loved one participated in parties and family gatherings regularly and suddenly begs off because she has plans with new friends or just disappears altogether, it can be a sign of a substance abuse problem.
A person who has an addiction will start to withdraw from interests and activities that used to hold her interest. Instead, she will devote more and more time to the addiction—tracking down her drug of choice, consuming it, experiencing its intoxicating effects, and recovering afterward. Then the cycle starts again. As the addiction becomes more intense, these cycles become shorter and there is less room for time spent with family, recreation activities, and hobbies.
Encourage Your Loved One to Seek Help for Addiction
If someone you care about has a problem with addiction, they need professional help. Great Oaks Recovery offers residential drug and alcohol treatment that is individualized to meet the needs and goals of each client.