There’s a critical period during a person’s substance abuse at which they are right on the cusp of addiction. They start changing their behavior, making poorer and poorer choices, and relinquishing a little bit more of themselves every day. Whether this looks like stealing money, lashing out at loved ones or lying about their whereabouts and relationships, everyone experiences significant behavioral changes when they’re abusing drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, they don’t or won’t recognize these changes within themselves. In this case, it’s up to loved ones and friends to recognize these signs and try to step in to try and help. The problem is, however, many do not know what to look for and often don’t recognize their loved ones have a problem until it’s too late.
While each user’s case is unique, some of the more common signs that you’re loved one is at risk for addiction include:
Increased Isolation – If your loved one is no longer engaged in your relationship or the world around them, it is probably for a reason. It’s common for new users to distance themselves from their old lives because they’re so preoccupied with using. In far too many cases, this leads to the permanent erosions of relationships.
New Levels of Deception – Addiction causes us to do say and do whatever it takes to satisfy our cravings, including lying. It’s not uncommon for at-risk addicts to lie about their whereabouts, their affiliations and their behavior. In the most extreme cases, they may steal money or possessions in order to pay for their continued supply. By the time they engage in this behavior, the need for help is imminent and addiction might have already taken hold.
Extreme Changes in Disposition – The withdrawal process, even for those not yet quite at the level of dependency, can yield extreme emotional reaction. Whether it’s yelling at a friend or family member for no apparent reason, crying out of nowhere, displaying inordinate amounts of energy, or even exhibiting overt physical aggression, our substance abuse can cause us to act very erratically. It’s important to let them calm down before we try and confront them about their behavior for our safety as well as their own.
At the end of the day, it’s far better to be safe than sorry. If we’re absolutely certain that a loved one is at risk for, or already battling addiction, there are number of measures we can take, including addressing them directly or holding an organized intervention. The most important thing is that we do our part to make sure they have the love, support and assistance they need.