If you are worried about a loved one who may be struggling with substance abuse, it can be difficult to know what to do or how to help.  It can also be challenging to understand the severity of their addiction. There are several indicators you may notice that could indicate your loved one is struggling with substances. The first step in knowing how to help your loved one is understanding what to look for and what particular signs and symptoms could mean. 

5 Signs of Substance Abuse in a Loved One

Signs of addiction in a loved one often come in various forms. You may notice behavioral changes, physical changes, changes in their emotional state (psychological changes), or other differences in the way your loved one behaves or acts. Some of the most easily noticed signs of substance abuse are often physical and behavioral. 

Physical Changes 

Physical changes are perhaps the most easily noticed. Many substances, if used long-term, will alter how one presents themselves to the outside world. It is essential to understand that if your loved one struggles with an addiction, their primary concern often focuses on obtaining and using their substance of choice. Therefore, life-sustaining functions such as eating regularly, sleeping, and personal hygiene receive significantly less attention. Certain drugs can result in visible side effects to the body. For example, you may also notice changes in skin color, complexion, dental hygiene (tooth loss formal source), or the development of sores on the body. 

Behavioral Changes

There are many ways your loved ones may change behaviorally if they are addicted to substances. They may lose interest in those things they once enjoyed, such as hobbies or spending time with friends. They may also experience significant changes in mood, such as new or worsening depression and anxiety. Suppose your loved one was once very active, and you notice that they’ve suddenly become very sedentary or stop participating in physical activities they used to frequent such as going to the gym. In that case, it may be a sign that they need help. You may also notice that your formally social loved one has become much more isolated and chooses to spend time alone instead of participating in events with their friends and members of their social circles. 

Changes in Sleeping Patterns

For someone with a substance abuse problem, daily sleeping patterns can change almost daily. Depending on their substance of choice, they may sleep all the time, or they may sleep not at all. They may also keep odd hours or fall asleep in the middle of a conversation. Because various substances have different effects on the body (for example, stimulants such as methamphetamines will react differently than depressants such as alcohol), your loved one may act quite differently than you are accustomed to. Erratic changes in sleeping behaviors can indicate a negative relationship with substances and a red flag that your loved one needs to seek addiction treatment

New or Worsening Medical Conditions

New or worsening medical conditions also accompany many chronic addictions. Ongoing use of certain drugs can both cause and worsen pre existing medical conditions. If your formerly healthy loved one is suddenly spending a lot of time at the doctor’s office, it could be related to substance use. Common medical issues can include respiratory difficulties, heart disease, heart attack, digestive problems, and sexual and reproductive health problems, among others. 

Legal and Financial Troubles

As previously noted, the primary concern for someone struggling with addiction is obtaining and using their substance of choice. For many, this often leads to new or worsening legal and financial troubles. You may notice that your loved one is struggling more financially than ever before. You may also learn that they’ve been stealing money (or stealing drugs from family and friends) to satisfy their cravings. Another potential indicator of substance abuse includes new or worsening legal difficulties associated with drugs and alcohol, such as citations for possession or driving while intoxicated. 

How to Get Your Loved One Help with Addiction

If you were concerned about a loved one’s addiction and want to get some help but do not know where to start, reach out to Cal Recovery today. It is not uncommon for people to experience concern and apprehension when they think of approaching a loved one about drugs and alcohol. It is OK to be concerned about how they will react; however, it is essential to provide any assistance you can to get them what could be life-saving addiction treatment. The admissions team at Cal Recovery can help answer your questions about how to approach your loved one and provide guidance on the best ways to assist them in accepting addiction treatment. Let us help your loved one begin their journey to sobriety today. 

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