It’s not always easy to determine when someone is abusing drugs or alcohol. Maybe you don’t see the person enough to know what’s going on. Perhaps your friend has been going through a tough time and their recent behaviors are understandable. It’s even possible that you’ve been enjoying some of the same recreational activities with your friend but are concerned they are taking things to another level.
No matter how strongly you suspect that a person has a substance abuse problem, you can’t know for certain unless they admit they have a problem or they are evaluated by a medical health professional. Until then, the signs you see may be related to extreme compulsion, grief, ongoing stress or a mental health disorder. It’s also possible that substance abuse is part of the issue, but not the whole story.
Let’s look at five signs that someone needs your help. Being alert and aware can save a life – or many.
1. Personality Changes
People who use drugs and alcohol often have personality changes. This happens because the structure of the brain is changing with each use. When the person has a craving, they tend to get moody or irritable. When they do consume drugs or alcohol, their brain is satisfied again. The person may act happy, social and jubilant. It’s also common for addicts to no longer prioritize the needs of others.
2. Relationship Problems
Nowhere did it ever say that an addiction is the key to a happy, successful relationship. Because addicts tend to act selfishly, relationship problems don’t take long to arise. You may notice that your loved one is dishonest, irritable, moody and self-centered. Almost always, relationships with drug-free individuals are negatively impacted.
3. Financial Hardships
Drugs and alcohol are expensive habits. Addicts will do what they can to support their habit, even if that means spending their hard-earned paycheck on drugs and alcohol. They may steal or “borrow” from others and stop paying their bills. While some addicts do maintain their jobs, many end up struggling to keep steady employment.
4. Difficulty at Work
For those who do manage to keep their jobs, it’s usually not easy. Addicts have a difficult time focusing when they are under the influence or hungover from the night before. Many chronic drug abusers call in late or miss work frequently. When they do show up, their work is subpar at best. Work is no longer a priority.
5. Health Problems
Addicts are generally not the picture of health. Not only are there side effects associated with particular drugs, but also addicts tend to be malnourished. Many have irregular sleep patterns, weakened immune systems and unhealthy weights. It’s also common for addicts to engage in unprotected sex or sharing needles, putting them at risk for STDs and infections.
Substance abuse is a sensitive subject, and it’s common for another mental health disorder to be present. Before talking to a friend or family member, speak with a qualified professional about the best way to handle the situation.