How to Identify Addiction in Loved Ones

Substance abuse causes dramatic changes in attitudes, relationships, and behaviors, and it’s often paired with adamant denials. Many addicts believe that they have everything under control, and they’ll do all that they can to convince their loved ones as much. Oftentimes, family members battle with denial themselves.

They want to believe the best of their loved ones, and they’re constantly rooting for them to succeed. Unfortunately, until addicts and their family members recognize that a problem exists, no one can make getting help a priority. Addiction is often referred to as a family disease.

There’s absolutely no one in the home who isn’t affected by a person’s drug or alcohol abuse. Whether the addict in your life is causing financial hardship, mental, emotional, or physical trauma, or intense anxiety and depression, recognizing and acknowledging their addiction is important for everyone.

When you know for certain that addiction exists, you can make a conscious decision to cease all enabling behaviors. You can also seek family therapy for yourself, for any minor children living in the home, and for anyone else who’s ready to take part.

What Addiction Is and What It Looks Like

Contrary to what many people think, addiction goes far beyond aggressive, drug-seeking behaviors and near-constant substance use. It isn’t a matter of laziness or lack of willpower, and it isn’t a choice. In fact, addiction represents the absence of choice.

Although your loved one may have started using drugs or alcohol recreationally, as their substance use proceeded to daily or regular use and then outright abuse, they moved closer to full-blow dependence. A person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol cannot stop using without experiencing painful physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.

Also known as either substance use disorder (SUD) or alcohol use disorder (AUD), addiction is recognized as a chronic, lifelong disease. It has a marked impact on the brain’s chemistry and on many of the brain’s normal functions. When people are addicted to drugs or alcohol, their brains have been conditioned to view substance use as a reward-worthy behavior.

When they stop using suddenly, not only do their bodies send out widespread distress signals in the form of withdrawal symptoms, but they also have a hard time feeling happy, motivated, focused, and connected to the world around them.

Signs Your Loved One May Be Addicted

After recreational use and daily or regular use, substance abuse is the last step in the development of an addiction. When someone is abusing drugs or alcohol, they’ll often experience a progressive series of adverse consequences. However, these consequences do not cause them to stop. For instance, their drug or alcohol use might result in:

  • Damaged personal or professional relationships
  • Job loss
  • Housing loss
  • Criminal charges or other legal troubles
  • Financial distress

These consequences are often made worse by a substance user’s adamant denial of a problem. For instance, someone who abuses alcohol and is arrested for DUI might continue to drink and might regularly refuse to seek out alternative means of transportation when going out to drink. When addicted, a person makes their substance of choice their very first priority. As such, much of their life revolves around using their drug of choice, finding it, or acquiring it.

This change in behavior is especially noticeable in formerly social or family-oriented people as they may start spending more time by themselves, being secretive about their whereabouts, and refusing to participate in normal activities.

These changes in behaviors and priorities can also affect their personal appearance. Someone who was once very fastidious about personal grooming may start to look rumpled, dirty, and disheveled nearly all of the time. Substance abuse and outright addiction also foster a number of health-related physical changes such as:

  • Perpetually bloodshot eyes
  • Bloating
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Changes in pallor
  • Tooth discoloration, oral infections, or tooth loss
  • Broken capillaries around the eyes or at the nose

Depending upon the substances they use, some people also contend with regular headaches, frequent nausea, bouts of confusion, dizziness, and general disorientation. Both substance abuse and relatively short periods of abstinence can also lead to frustration, aggression, depression, anxiety, and obsessive drug-seeking.

Common Causes and Risk Factors for Addiction

There are also certain risk factors and recognized causes of addiction that may make your loved one more predisposed to either AUD or SUD. These include:

  • Untreated co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Having one or more immediate family members with SUD or AUD
  • Feelings of low self-worth
  • Past trauma
  • Unprocessed guilt or grief

If you believe that your loved one is suffering from addiction, we can help. Call us today at 844-639-8371 to find out more about the available options in rehab and in family addiction therapy.

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