How to know if Someone You Know has an addiction Problem

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if someone you know or love has an addiction problem or as it is medically known, a Substance Use Disorder (SUD). It is also common for discussions about problem drinking or drug use to lead to conflict and hard feelings in relationships so often times the issue is avoided. Friends and family may even feel guilty if they partake in recreational alcohol or drug use with their loved one so may remain in denial. It is important however, that people take a proactive approach to assessing when there is a real, life threatening problem to confront.

Typically, alcohol or drug dependence leads to very negative consequences in every aspect of a person’s life; in their relationships, at work, in their physical status, and in their mental health. SUD can also result in legal charges, financial trouble and severe isolation increasing the likelihood of depression, anxiety, higher rates of substance use and overdose. Indeed, this vicious cycle can become extremely destructive so it is important to know the signs and symptoms of SUD/addiction so that early intervention can take place and lead to better outcomes.

Physical Signs and Symptoms

  1. Unexplained change in a person’s Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
    • Sudden change in appetite leading to weight gain or weight loss
    • Poor hygiene
    • Significant sleep disturbance including too much or too little sleep or unusual sleep/wake patterns
  2. Unexplained physical injuries including bruises or marks
  3. Nausea, vomiting, or excessive sweating
  4. Bloodshot eyes or eyes where the pupils seem larger or smaller than usual
  5. Cold, sweaty palms or shaking hands
  6. Puffy face, blushing or paleness
  7. Extreme hyperactivity; excessive talkativeness
  8. Runny nose, unusual nose bleeds or hacking cough
  9. Needle marks on lower arm, leg or bottom of feet
  10. Unexplained skin irritation including acne breakout or unexplained rash
  11. Unusual body odors
  12. Low or no energy
  13. Depressed or anxious mood

Behavioral Signs and Symptoms

  1. Always uses substance to intoxication
  2. Uses substance at inappropriate times such as early in the morning
  3. Stops fulfilling obligations at work, home or school
  4. Looses close relationships due to behavior
  5. Steals or borrows money from others
  6. Secretive, defensive behavior about activities and possessions
  7. Unusual mood changes or mood swings and erratic behavior
  8. Anger management issues including outbursts and aggression
  9. Loss of interest in usual activities, especially those they once found pleasurable

It is important to note that many individuals who abuse alcohol also abuse other drugs. Poly-substance abuse can be a very complex clinical presentation needing specialized, multi-facetted interventions, particularly when it comes to withdrawal management or “detox.”

A professional assessment is the best way to determine if there is a Substance Use Disorder or addiction. Edgewood is available to provide a FREE ASSESSMENT, we can also provide guidance on the right treatment or services that can help you or a loved one get well and stay well.

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