Early Warning Signs of Addiction: How to Know When Something’s Wrong

signs of addiction

Are you worried about a friend or family member, but aren’t sure whether or not they have a problem? Many people across the country require professional treatment for addiction, but for loved ones, it can be difficult to determine whether a person’s substance use has reached problematic levels. Today, we’ll help you to identify some early warning signs of addiction.

Earliest Signs of Addiction

Before substance use takes a physical toll, you will probably notice some strange behavior. Keeping track of these changes as they occur can help you to seek professional help before things get worse. Early warning signs of addiction include…

A shift in social circles.

Your child, spouse, or relative may be spending a lot of time with new friends that you haven’t met. They might seem cagey and defensive about who exactly these people are or what they do together.

Becoming more irresponsible.

Drug and alcohol abuse can turn even the most responsible employee and parent into a flaky, disorganized person. Addiction messes with the brain’s neural pathways; continued substance use can result in disorientation, memory loss, confusion, and the inability to prioritize tasks correctly. You might notice that your loved one forgets important commitments, even after being reminded, or that they don’t seem to care about things they once valued.

Secrecy and deception.

Addiction is a disease that often goes hand-in-hand with lying and secretive behavior. This is because if loved ones knew what was going on, they would intervene, and the substance abuse would end. Therefore, it’s very common for the addict to keep everyone guessing. They may disappear for hours or days at a time, only to return with a flimsy excuse. If they ask for money, their reasons may be vague or unconvincing. Be on the lookout for secretive behavior – this is one of the biggest early warning signs of addiction.

Financial difficulty.

Drinking and using drugs are expensive pastimes. For example, a person using cocaine can spend up to $170,000 per year on their addiction. This amount is just for the drug itself, not including any potential legal costs or medical expenses associated with drug use. People addicted to drugs or alcohol often show signs of financial difficulty fairly early on. As casual or social use escalates to daily use, they may borrow or steal money from loved ones. If your friend or family member asks for money or expresses financial hardship, be aware that addiction could be the culprit.

Changes in personality.

This is another key warning sign of addiction. Substance abuse changes the way neural pathways connect; over time, it can cause a person to behave completely different to the way they normally would. They may make inappropriate comments, laugh at nothing, seem “goofy,” or fail to keep up in a conversation. On the other hand, it’s not uncommon for addiction to make a person irritable, easily agitated, and even violent, depending on their substance of choice. When this happens, it is easy to become scared or discouraged. Remember that it is not your friend or family member talking – it is the drug or drink – and that you can help them to get better.

In addition to behavioral signs of addiction, there are several physical changes that develop early in a person’s substance use.

Changes to Physical Appearance

If you live with someone who has a substance use disorder, you may notice a gradual decline in their personal appearance. For those who see their loved one rarely, this change may be a complete shock. That is because drug and alcohol use can completely transform the way a person looks in a very short amount of time.

First, rapid changes in weight are common. Addiction comes before all other needs and self-care; because of this, people who are using drugs often lose their appetite or forget to eat regular, nutritious meals. Some substances, like opioids, are associated with the development of a sweet tooth – people who take these drugs probably won’t choose nutrient-dense foods. This malnutrition results in significant, sudden weight loss that may be alarming.

You may also notice that your loved one has stopped taking care of themselves. This results in an unkempt appearance. They may seem like they haven’t showered, gotten a haircut, or brushed their teeth in a long time. Due to the rapid weight loss we’ve already mentioned, their clothes may seem much too large.

Finally, there are other well-known physical signs of addiction that may depend on which drug your loved one is using. These include…

  • Dilated or pinpoint pupils
  • Bloody noses
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Lack of coordination
  • Unusual body odor
  • Slurred speech
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Scabs or open wounds

If you have observed any of these symptoms, we encourage you to seek professional help for addiction.

Effective Addiction Treatment in St. Augustine, Florida

Many people believe that until someone hits rock bottom, they don’t need to go to rehab. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Research shows that early intervention improves the chances of recovery for people addicted to drugs and alcohol. If you have identified your loved one’s behavior in this article, we hope that you will seek help today.

At The Augustine, we offer the full continuum of care. Our long-term program is unlike any other, and we believe that we can help your friend or family member to make a complete recovery. For more information about the signs of addiction, residential treatment, or The Augustine, contact us today.