Recognizing signs of a substance addiction can potentially steer someone from a life of regret and misery. Whether you see signs of alcohol or drug addiction in a friend, family member, co-worker, or loved one, talking to them about their drug use might be enough to wake them up to reality. If they seem like they want help, point them to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in your area and encourage them to seek treatment. Be careful not do this in a confronting manner because that may upset them or push them further away from seeking help.
General signs of any kind of substance addiction are problems at school or work, like not showing up for long periods of time or a sudden drop in performance compared to before. This is because a substance addiction has powerful tendency to disrupt a person’s life and mental activity. Drugs alter the way the brain functions and therefore alters the way the person functions. Prolonged substance use means changes in personality, which may include a depressed mood, decreased motivation, fatigue, and increased assertiveness or aggression.
Assertiveness and aggression may arise when the person is experiencing cravings to use the substance again, but is unable to because of work or school. This will increase frustration, which increases one’s sensitivity to stress. If a co-worker or friend adds to that stress by asking to hang out afterwards, which would interrupt drug use time, or asks for more work to be done, then a person struggling with addiction is more likely to lose their temper.
As a result of so much fixation on satisfying cravings, drug use, hiding that drug use from others, and dealing with obstacles that prevent them from their drug use schedule, the person will pay less attention to their appearance and may neglect their hygiene and what they wear. Secretiveness will increase over time as the person dives deeper into the social isolation that naturally accompanies addiction because the person has to constantly worry about and hide their drug use. A crisis occurs when they run out of the drug and this prompts those who a severely addicted to ask others to lend them money without explaining why.
While these are sure signs of substance addiction, certain drugs have specific effects on the person’s outward behaviors and certain signs of drug abuse, like overdose, require immediate substance abuse help.
Signs of Cocaine Abuse
Cocaine is a stimulant drug that increases a person’s energy, so someone who has recently used cocaine will display unusual happiness, alertness, and irritability. Many also become extra sensitive to lights, sounds, and people touching them. For someone who is a chronic user of cocaine, that person will also hold paranoid beliefs that have no evidence or clear reasoning behind them. Clear physical signs are dilated pupils, increased heartbeat, twitches, and complaints of nausea.
Signs of Meth Abuse
Meth is also a stimulant, but signs of meth abuse are far clearer than chronic cocaine use. When someone has just used meth, they will move around a lot, have an unusual amount of energy, decreased appetite, increased heartbeat, and rapid speech. For people who have abused meth for at least a year, their teeth will be brown, black, and some teeth may be chipped or missing. Other outwardly symptoms of meth abuse are sudden weight loss for no apparent reason, skin sores from scratching, paranoid beliefs, and general neglect of appearance.
Signs of Opioid Abuse
Opioids are considered a depressant because they relax the mind and decrease pain. These substances will make people stumble because they become stuck in a drowsy daze until the substance wears off. This also means slurred speech, slow breathing, and decreased movements as each movement becomes heavier. Their personality may change from average to depressed with unexplained mood swings or bursts of anger. It is at this point that substance abuse help should be encouraged.
Signs of Alcoholism
Most people already know what alcohol does and the effects of alcoholism are similar to opioid use, but differ in some ways. If the person has a drink in their hand almost every time you see them, they might have an alcohol problem, but that is not enough to prompt them to see a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. What is a sign of alcoholism is finding alcohol hidden in strange places and finding them drinking in the morning and night. Often, chronic alcoholics become aggressive at night and may become physically or verbally abusive. If this occurs regularly, then that person may be addicted to alcohol.
While hallucinogens are not addictive in general, the PCP hallucinogen is and can lead to overdose if abused since the substance leads to tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when stopped. When someone is on PCP, they will not likely be able to form coherent sentences after a certain time. They may stare off into space, seem confused, act out of character, laugh for no reason, and display strange mood swings. Many of these are responses to the hallucinations. If someone has stopped taking PCP, they will be sweaty, complain of headaches, and display general signs of substance addiction.
Where to Find Help for Someone with a Substance Problem
At the Recover, we empathize with those who are addicted to alcohol or drugs because we know how severe withdrawal symptoms can be on top of urges to keep using the drug. We also know that there is a lot of social stigma around abusing drugs that may be preventing you from seeking the substance abuse help you need to get your life back together. You do not have to face this alone.
The Recover is an unbiased substance abuse and mental health news provider that provides information about substance addiction. We also contain information concerning West Virginia centers for addiction recovery. If you know someone who is struggling with a substance addiction, dial (888) 510-3898 to talk to a treatment specialist who will help you find a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center for your loved one.