Indicators of Addiction – Spotting the Telltale Signs

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It can be both confusing and heartbreaking when you begin to suspect that someone you love may have become addicted to alcohol or drugs. Sometimes the indicators of an addiction to alcohol or drugs are obvious, but sometimes they are more subtle. The latter is especially true if your loved one is really good at hiding his behavior, or if you don’t seem him very often.

It’s important to understand that the behaviors associated with one type of drug may be quite different than those associated with another type of drug. However, that being said, there are many common indicators of addiction to either alcohol or drugs that are typically present regardless of the particular substance your loved one is using.

When you consider the following list of telltale signs of an alcohol or drug addiction, remember that these should be things that were not present in the past. In other words, they should be a clear change from your loved one’s previous functioning. They also should not be due to something else – such as grieving due to a recent loss, or a known health issue that would be a more likely explanation.

Common indicators of addiction include:

  • Neglect of personal hygiene
  • Irritability, anxiety, or moodiness
  • Anger outbursts
  • Violent or aggressive behavior
  • Odd or bizarre behavior
  • Frequently missing work, or often late to work
  • Decline in work or school performance
  • Changes in appetite or eating habits
  • Attitude or personality changes
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Unexplained changes in weight
  • Loss of interest in things or people that were once important
  • Any changes in habits
  • Lying about whereabouts or other behaviors
  • Often borrowing money
  • Increased need for privacy
  • Secretiveness
  • Acting paranoid or suspicious
  • Loss of motivation; apathetic
  • Changes in energy levels
  • Problems with memory or concentration
  • Increased talkativeness
  • Legal problems
  • Disheveled appearance
  • Breath, body, and / or clothing smells like alcohol or drugs
  • Needle marks or bruises on skin; attempts to hide them (e.g. wearing long sleeves in hot weather)
  • Increased need for money; borrowing or stealing to get it
  • Unusually giddy or silly
  • Starts hanging out with others who abuse drugs or alcohol
  • Starts acquiring drug paraphernalia
  • Neglects friends who don’t use
  • Has frequent accidents
  • Defensiveness or hostility

If you notice several of these indicators of addiction, it’s time to come up with a plan of action with regards to talking to your loved one or setting up an intervention.

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