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Signs A Family Member Is Addicted

by Landmark Recovery

June 27, 2022
Smiling grandparents seated on the couch with grandchildren on their laps and parents leaning over their shoulders from behind the couch. A success story from Landmark Recovery's substance abuse treatment that started with an intervention.

Do you suspect a family member may be in need of substance abuse treatment? The impact of alcohol and drug addictions can tear families apart and erode important relationships. Detecting the early indicators of a problem with alcohol or drugs might be difficult, even if you’re living in the same household. As a result, it’s not always simple to answer the obvious questions: when does a little bit of drinking or drug use become too much? Has my loved one developed a full fledged substance use disorder? 

Nothing can substitute the advice of a professional when it comes to trying to diagnose someone. If you know what you’re looking for, it’s a lot easier to spot the early signs of addiction. You can also start to strategize how best to approach someone who may be experiencing substance abuse and, perhaps, help them see their addiction for what it is. The signs that a person is addicted to or abusing drugs are myriad but nuanced.

If you or someone you know is dealing with a substance abuse issue reach out to Landmark Recovery today.

Here are four warning signals to keep an eye out for in a loved one. 

Decline In Daily Routines 

When a family member or friend develops a substance use disorder, obtaining and using those substances becomes their highest priority. Things like school, their career and even family obligations end up being pushed to the side. Recuperating from heavy or repeated doses of certain substances may even cause them to miss or be late for important events, like work. If you’ve known someone to be heavily involved in church, for example, they might start shirking church-related responsibilities, showing up late or not even showing up at all. This could be a sign that drugs or alcohol have taken a firm hold of their schedule. 

A PEW Charitable Trusts’ initiative estimates that legal drug use costs the U.S. healthcare industry over $450 billion annually. Big Pharma saddles patients with much of the cost according to PEW Charitable Trusts. Their drug spending research shows insurers doing this by inflating insurance premiums and co-pay. That further limits access to therapies people need. This makes it even more important that your relative not waste whatever therapy they may have earned for this purpose. The value of that support also happens to be part of the $450 billion if it’s subsidized in any of several ways.

As their habit continues to mature, they may very well also be tempted to lie to you about an increasing number of things or steal from you in order to support said habit. Things like this will only intensify if they also experience job loss or drop out of school. These and other hardships are often par for the course when it comes to the development of substance-related habits. Drug or alcohol addiction causes great instability. It will be exceedingly difficult for someone to start over while still adhering to a routine, which is why those grappling with substance abuse tend to spin out of control. 

Changes In Physical Conditions Elders helping a younger family member to seek substance abuse treatment at Landmark Recovery.

A substance abuse disorder can occasionally be detected by changes in physical appearance. It causes people to spend the majority of their time searching for and misusing drugs; so much so that, without even noticing, they end up letting hygiene, nutrition, and exercise regimens fall by the wayside. Depending on the substance they’re using, a person in the grips of addiction may gain or lose weight. Your family member also may no longer care about their appearance.

They may appear unkempt as clothes no longer fit like normal, and they don’t shave as often as they used to. They may wear wrinkled clothes more often since their habit leaves them little time for now-insignificant tasks like ironing. Skin color changes, sores on face and body, pupil dilation, stomach cramps, loss of coordination and dental issues can all be symptoms of drug usage. Weight loss, dilapidated skin, uneven nails, disheveled hair and other signs of malnutrition are all indicators that your family member is abusing a substance of some kind. In general, they aren’t as “put together” as you’re used to seeing them.

High functioning alcoholics or drug users may keep up appearances. So don’t fall into the stigma that someone with an addiction looks a certain way. Looks can be deceiving. That’s why it’s important to analyze a person’s behavior and if possible monitor their substance usage.  

Emotional Instability 

Addiction is often characterized by erratic mood swings. People who abuse drugs and alcohol frequently engage in erratic and unpredictable conduct. The following symptoms and changes in your loved one’s emotional demeanor may indicate that he or she has a substance abuse problem: 

  • crying fits
  • physical or verbal outbursts
  • depression or anxiety, impatience
  • dejection or loss of interest
  • defensiveness
  • emotional peaks

Co-morbid mental health illnesses, psychosis, and other serious disorders can affect behavioral changes. In fact, one of these could even have been a precursor to that substance abuse. Experts can’t be certain since their correlation with substance abuse is still poorly understood. Regardless, substance use disorder can lead to aggressiveness, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, or hallucinations in extreme circumstances. 

Seek emergency medical attention if you observe this to avoid putting yourself or anyone else in danger. When an individual is addicted, he or she is more likely to acquire co-occurring complications. This is why dual-diagnosis programs, like those at Landmark Recovery, include treatment for co-occurring disorders. Rebuilding your life, sustaining long-term sobriety and experiencing joy are all within reach when you choose our proactive healing and outpatient rehab services. 

Sleeping Deficiency 

Drug and alcohol abuse can lead to abnormal daily routines and sleep patterns. You may notice someone waking up in the middle of the night or falling asleep mid-conversation. The euphoric high from stimulants is typically brief, with a quick drop-off right after. To prevent a quick cocaine recovery, many users continue to take the drug in order to maintain a high. If the medicine is taken in large doses, it might cause sleep deprivation for days. 

Marijuana and some prescription medications slow down the brain in a similar way to opiates. Opiates are sedatives that produce feelings of calm, muscular relaxation, and tiredness. While opioid addiction makes us feel as if we have slept, it reduces the quality of our sleep. A lack of sleep due to opioid addiction can lead to a lack of restfulness and fatigue. Finally, these drugs might cause a person to fall asleep at odd times, disrupting their sleep schedule. 

The time when you suspect a family member may be struggling with addiction is the wrong time to hesitate. If you have reason to believe it’s real, you can reach out to Landmark Recovery to talk to an addiction specialist even though you’re not the one battling substance abuse. We highly recommend you talk to a specialist and encourage you to call our recovery specialists at 888-448-0302.

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.