There are several different types of addictions, including drug addiction, alcoholism, and gambling addiction to name a few. Each type requires specialized addiction treatment in order to help addicts overcome their addictive behavior and lead a more constructive and enjoyable life. While the symptoms may vary to some degree from one individual to the next, and from one addiction to the next, the signs of an addiction are generally quite similar. When it comes to spotting the warning signs of addiction, keep in mind that some addicts may exhibit many or all of the signs, while others may be very good at keeping their addiction hidden. Following are 10 common signs of addictive behavior – red flags that your loved one needs addiction treatment:
- Noticeable fluctuations in mood. With addicts, moods shift rapidly from one extreme to the other – and usually without any reasonable explanation. Of course, mood swings can also be a sign of other disorders as well. An addiction treatment specialist can assess whether your loved one may have a mental health issue that needs to be addressed in addition to the addiction.
- Fluctuations in sleep or energy levels. Addicts may be very lethargic or fatigued, taking frequent naps one day, only to appear practically manic the next needing little if any sleep. Some drugs, like cocaine and methamphetamines for example, are very stimulating. Others, like benzodiazepines and other types of depressants, will make the person very drowsy.
- Secretiveness or evasiveness. Addicts are often very secretive in their behavior. They’ll go to great lengths to hide their addiction. They may require more privacy and be evasive when you ask them questions about where they’ve been or why they’re acting in an unusual manner.
- Frequently lying. Along the same lines of being secretive, many addicts will flat out lie to keep you in the dark and prevent you from interfering.
- Unexplainable weight gain or loss. Many substances interfere with appetite and metabolism, causing the addict to eat more than usual or burn calories at a fast rate. Additionally, an addiction to food (which is almost always hidden) often leads to significant weight gain over time. If the addict also has an eating disorder (which is not uncommon) a dual diagnosis addiction treatment facility can address both issues together.
- Frequent absences from work or other obligations. Addicts often miss work or school. This may be due to feeling ill (e.g. from a hangover or drug binge), spending time indulging in their addiction, losing track of time, or no longer caring about their responsibilities
- Loss of interest in activities that they used to enjoy. Most addicts devote an increasing amount of time to their addiction. They no longer have time for (or interest in) friends, family functions, hobbies, or other activities that were once important. If your loved one suddenly starts withdrawing socially or declining invitations, it’s another indicator that addiction treatment may be necessary.
- Frequent unexplained trips. This is another area where lying can easily come into play. They don’t want you to know what they’re doing or where they’re going so they are secretive or evasive when you ask. They may also make up a cover story that doesn’t quite fit, leaving you uneasy and suspicious.
- Unusual changes in appearance or attitude. An addiction significantly impacts a person’s life – including how they spend their time, who they spend it with (which may include wearing a certain type of clothing in order to fit in), and their attitude about life in general. If your once sweet and cooperative teenager has suddenly become cocky and disagreeable, an addiction may be the cause.
- Valuables start to mysteriously disappear. Whether they are things that belong to the addict or to their loved ones, addicts will sometimes start to steal and sell (or trade) whatever they can in order to secure their next fix. Prior to this you may have noticed that they’re always short on cash. The majority of addictions cost money, and they’ll need more and more of it to support their habit.
Once you have determined that your loved one does in fact need addiction treatment, the next step might be an intervention. An intervention involves gathering a group of concerned friends, family, and others who have an important role in the person’s life with the goal of confronting the behavior directly and insisting on a change. It helps remove the addict’s “blinders” by giving them a better understanding of the impact of their behavior – on their own life as well as the lives of those closest to them. An addiction treatment facility may provide intervention for your loved one as one of their regular services, or provide you with guidelines on how to handle the situation to get the best results. An effective intervention is one of the best ways to get your loved one into treatment and on the road to recovery.
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