It’s not easy to even consider that a loved one could have a drug problem. The earlier you are able to recognize these signs and intervene, the better your chances are of helping them make their way to a full recovery. The first thing you want to do before you approach them to have a conversation is to educate yourself on the signs of a drug problem. 19.7 million American adults are battling some form of addiction in the United States. Often someone with a drug problem will deny or gaslight you into believing they don’t have a problem because their addiction clings to every part of their existence.
Although every addiction is different, depending on the substance, these are some of the first steps in recognizing your loved ones’ drug problem.
The First Sign of a Drug Problem
One of the first signs of a drug problem is withdrawal, not from the substance itself, but from people they love and activities they once regularly enjoyed doing. Someone who is often around family and friends will begin to distance themselves for fear that others can or do recognize that they are changing. The visits become fewer, the phone calls become more and more brief and irregular, and activities that they regularly participated in usually stop altogether. Often addiction causes the user to believe they will no longer be loved or accepted if their drug problem comes to light, so they withdraw in an attempt to maintain and preserve the relationships that mean the most to them. One of the most important things to remember when you see this happen is that it is not personal. It’s not for lack of love and respect, but the desire to keep those relationships.
The Second Sign of a Drug Problem
When your loved one does come around you, they will tend to keep things brief to further avoid their drug problem being noticed. At this point, signs are physically appearing and they are attempting to hide them, such as: wearing long sleeves to cover needle marks, baggy clothes to hide dramatic weight loss, having an unusual odor from the substance, or noticeable changes in their hygiene. Although you may not live with your loved one, we all wear the signs of inconsistent sleeping patterns– from dark circles to a short temper, unusual acne, or bloodshot eyes. You may also notice that they speak incoherently or have sudden bursts of energy.
The Third Sign of a Drug Problem
A drug problem can and does affect the way your loved one behaves. Someone who would have never dreamed of stealing from you before changes when using a substance. They become driven to take anything they can sell, trade, or use directly to acquire more drugs.
Most commonly, you’ll notice an old bottle of pain medicine (or other controlled substances) will disappear from your cabinets. The cash you know you had in your wallet is suddenly gone without a trace or items of value in your home start disappearing after your loved ones visits.
It is important to remember this is not because they don’t love you or respect you. It is simply addiction in its most powerful form.
If you find that you are seeing any of these signs, please remember there is hope. There are caring facilities across the United States that are dedicated to mending families and will assist you and your loved one in their recovery.
Just by taking the time to read these signs, you’ve committed the first step in the journey to help your loved one recover. You don’t have to go through this alone and neither does your loved one.