Chapter 1: The Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
You may have noticed a family member’s change in behavior or appearance and feel in your gut that something is not right. Perhaps your suspicions grow stronger every day, and you might even feel an overwhelming sense of panic. What can you do to help your loved one? How do you know if someone is addicted to drugs?
Intoxication or alcoholism signs can sometimes be obvious, but it can also be hard to recognize addiction. Sometimes, an addicted family member will mask their symptoms — making it more difficult to tell if they need help. Nevertheless, encourage an addicted family member to seek treatment as soon as you recognize any signs of addiction. The sooner your family member faces their addiction, the easier it will be for them to recover.
If you notice any of the following signs of alcoholism or drug abuse, reach out to Tranquil Shores to develop a plan of action today.
What Are the Physical Signs of Alcoholism?
It is usually easy to tell when someone is drunk. However, knowing when someone is dependent on alcohol is not always easy.
Both binge drinking and long-term drinking affect the major organs in the body such as the brain, heart, liver and pancreas, and it depresses the nervous system. If you suspect a family member is abusing alcohol, look for the following physical signs or listen for symptoms described by your loved one:
- Swollen or red palms
- Redness in cheeks and nose
- Skin sores or repeated infections
- Stomach cramps
- Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
- Unsteady gait
- Liver problems
- Chronic diarrhea
- Trembling hands
- Husky voice
- Broken capillaries on the face
An alcoholic will not only show the physical symptoms of alcohol addiction, but they will also behave in a way that reflects a physical and emotional dependence on alcohol. They might:
- Be depressed by alcohol use
- Be irritable
- Have mood swings
- Not eat well
- Drink alone or secretly
- Drink in the morning
- Prefer drinking over other activities
- Engage in risky behavior
- Engage in recurring fights with friends or family members
- Use alcohol to sleep, self-medicate or cope with problems
- Complain of headaches, insomnia, nausea or other symptoms when they stop drinking
- Be unable to discontinue alcohol use despite negative consequences
Certain risk factors make an individual more susceptible to alcohol dependence. Consider the following factors if you suspect a family member is struggling with alcohol addiction or showing signs of alcohol abuse.
How do you know if someone is addicted to alcohol? You might realize it is time to seek help if these signs of addiction are present:
- A pattern of drinking: If a family member regularly binge-drinks or drinks for an extended amount of time, they are at risk of developing alcohol dependence.
- Family history: If other family members have a history of alcohol abuse, the risk is higher for your loved one.
- Co-occurring disorders: Individuals with depression, anxiety or other mental health disorders may rely on substances like alcohol to relieve symptoms.
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a pattern of uncontrolled drinking. Individuals with AUD are preoccupied with alcohol and continue to drink even when it causes problems.
A family member may not realize they have a drinking problem. It is important they learn the health consequences of alcohol abuse, whether they binge drink on occasion or have been drinking heavily over time.
If you feel like a loved one is sinking deeper into addiction and you are struggling to reach them, do not lose hope. You and your family are not alone. An estimated 21 million Americans over the age of 12 needed substance use treatment in 2016. Addiction is not your fault. Tranquil Shores is here to help.
What Are the Signs of Drug Addiction?
Like alcohol abuse, drug abuse presents physical signs and behavioral changes. Drug abuse can have long-term consequences on the heart, lungs, nervous system, brain and mental health disorders.
According to the NSDUH, four million people had an SUD relating to Marijuana in 2016, making it the most commonly abused illicit drug. An estimated 2.1 million Americans had an opioid use disorder, which includes the use of prescription painkillers and heroin.
The use of opioids, whether in the form of prescription medication like codeine or an illicit drug like heroin, is an epidemic in America. According to data compiled by the organization Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), deaths from synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, doubled between 2015 and 2016 and surpassed the numbers of deaths related to heroin and prescription opioid use.
Overall, deaths from synthetic opioids have increased 718 percent over the past decade and affect Americans of all backgrounds regardless of sex, age, race or geographic location.
How do you know if someone is addicted to drugs? Immediate effects of drug abuse are usually clear and might include one or more of the following physical signs depending on the drug:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Excessive sweating
- Weight loss or gain
- Slurred speech
- Poor personal hygiene
Often, when a family member is addicted to a substance, they will behave in ways that contradict their true character. Their behavior may be confusing, bizarre, secretive or painful to watch.
You may feel like you lost your loved one, but that is not the truth. Beneath their addiction, your loved one is still the same person you’ve always cared about. It is not uncommon for an addicted individual to:
- Act irritable
- Lack motivation
- Have an unusual need for money
- Have new friends
- Have a change in routine
- Continue to take a drug when it is no longer needed for a health issue
- Develop a high tolerance to a drug
- Experience withdrawal when they stop using
- Obsess about the drug
- Continue taking the drug despite the negative effects
- No longer display interest in hobbies or other activities they used to enjoy
- Borrow or steal money for the drugs
- Hide the drug
- Have trouble with co-workers, friends and other relationships
- Sleep too much or too little
- Steal medication from others
- Take prescribed medication with alcohol
- Be unable to meet work or school obligations
Facing addiction is not easy. With addiction, a lot it is at stake — health, finances and relationships for everyone involved. Fortunately, help is available.