Addiction is an incredibly complex disease that deserves long-term extensive treatment. It affects individuals physically, psychologically and behaviourally by exerting a long and powerful influence over the sufferer. It can also manifest itself in very distinctive ways: Spotting the signs early can help you or a loved one receive the appropriate treatment before the disease spirals out of control.
Not all of these signs of addiction will appear in one person, however if you are struggling with some of these then it is a good indicator that you do need to seek professional help.
1. BEING SECRETIVE OR EVASIVE
If you find yourself trying to hide any type of behaviour, from excessive alcohol consumption to shopping, it is often a warning sign that something is not right.
People do not hide healthy behaviours, if you are doing something in secret or become evasive when questioned about a particular behaviour then the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem.
2. NEED FOR ISOLATION
Isolation can be a big indicator that you or a loved one is suffering with an addiction. For many, it becomes a way of hiding the addiction from friends and family. If you suddenly find that you are living in your own little world and abandoning important social events as well as activities that you once treasured, then this can be indicative of a substance abuse disorder or other type of addiction.
3. EXPERIENCING FINANCIAL TROUBLE
The cost of maintaining an addiction is high and often prioritised over everything else. It is not uncommon for those who struggle with addiction to also experience financial problems. Suddenly you find yourself struggling to manage the responsibility of bills and other financial obligations. You may find that your funds are going directly into sustaining your addiction rather than other responsibilities. Spotting the early signs of addiction can reduce the financial burden of addiction on you or loved ones.
4. MOOD SWINGS
Mood swings can often be a manifestation of addiction. However, when considering, mood swings, it is important to take into consideration what may or may not be normal for the individual. A person who is usually calm and considerate may suddenly become excitable and out of control. Whereas someone who is pleasant and upbeat can become distant and depressed. If the mood swings are rapid, unexplained and accompanied by some of the signs mentioned, the chances are that you might be dealing with substance abuse or even addiction.
5. CHANGES IN PHYSICAL APPEARANCE
Continued drug and alcohol use can have a devastating impact on your body.
Some of the signs that point towards changes in your health or that of a family member who may be trapped in the early stages of addiction include:
- Sudden weight loss
- Blood shot and glassy eyes
- Physical withdrawal symptoms like, sweats, tremors, vomiting & seizures
- Dry mouth
- Excessive sniffing and runny nose
- Unkempt appearance, hair, skin, teeth, clothing
- Tiredness and lethargy
- Constant illness
- Unexplained injuries
- Changes in speech, slurring or rapid rambling
It is important to keep in mind that someone with an addiction will always understate the seriousness of a physical condition. If no other explanation exists, then there is an increased possibility of an underlying addiction problem.
6. UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
When a person is struggling with addiction it can cause them to lose focus on the things that once mattered. The need for drugs or alcohol can often override everything, including love. Relationships are often one of the biggest casualties of addiction. Are you spending less and less time with your partner or loved ones? Is your substance use causing strains in your relationships? Do you have a new circle of friends who you refuse to talk about? Are you spending more and more time with people that support your substance use? If you have noticed that a loved one no longer wants to spend time having fun with the family or friends, that relationships have become toxic, and a sudden change in the friend group then these can all be clear signs of a developing addiction
7. WORK OR SOCIAL PROBLEMS
Other signs of addiction include poor performance at work, showing up late to work, or even not showing up at all. Addiction is not a one-person phenomenon, often it creates a domino effect and can have adverse effects on the community, the family and the individual. If you are entrapped by drugs, alcohol or negative behaviours and failing to meet obligations, you may be struggling with a substance disorder.
8. SUFFERING WITHDRAWALS & CRAVINGS
Withdrawals are common with substance abuse. When individuals attempt to stop using substances they have used for some time, they are most likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. If you or a loved one is experiencing withdrawal symptoms this indicates that dependency has developed. Withdrawals are clear to see and may take the form of sweating, shaking, seizures, sleep deprivation, general aches and pains and so on. In some situations, withdrawal symptoms can be very dangerous and unpleasant. It is therefore important to seek professional help rather than trying to quit alone.
Cravings and urges are a central feature of addiction and are totally consuming. People who crave substances whether this is food, alcohol or drugs have grown accustomed to having these substances. If the individual, then tries to go without they experience intense cravings and urges which can become extremely uncomfortable and difficult to support. If cravings are the driving force behind your addiction, then now is the time to take action.
Tolerance also plays an important role in addiction. If you are finding that your body has become accustomed to your substance use, drugs or alcohol, as a result of repeated use and you are now having to use more to achieved desired effects then you have most likely developed a tolerance to your substance. Ignoring signs of increased tolerances can often turn to dependency and put you at risk of overdosing. Rather than waiting for tolerance and dependency to develop it is important to recognise the signs and to understand that, if you want it, then help is available.
9. HAVE YOU LOST INTEREST IN ACTIVITIES YOU ONCE ENJOYED?
As an addiction progresses, individuals who are normally active and involved in a number of activities and hobbies, may stop partaking in these pass-times. Substance misuse often consumes a large part of an individual’s life leaving little time to continue with once cherished interests and hobbies. If you have noticed that a loved one no longer wants to spend time having fun with family and friend and is apathetic towards things they once loved, then addiction may be the cause.
10. UNSUCCESSFUL ATTEMPTS TO STOP
Early signs of addiction are often characterised by a vicious cycle of sobriety and relapse. If you or a loved one lack motivation and have undergone numerous unsuccessful attempts to stop or control your substance use, then this could be an indicator that you may be struggling with an addiction. People often believe they are strong willed and can successfully stop. The truth is that willpower alone is not enough to beat the disease of addiction. The most effective way to beat addiction is to find the right treatment programme and rehab for your needs.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TREATMENT
These ten signs are indicators of potential addiction, however, many individuals with a drug or alcohol problem may find it difficult to reach out for help. If a loved one, family member or friend is struggling with several of the above signs you may need to step in. By seeking professional help and knowing what to look for, you can help the individual before the addiction spirals out of control. Contact us for a private and confidential consultation.