The progression of addiction is gradual, and more often than not family members and friends may not notice that something is amiss until someone is over their head. When you notice that something isn’t quite right with a loved one, you may notice little things that cause a small blip on the radar screen–but that awareness often passes and you may not even think that someone you love is struggling with substance abuse.
But, as the old saying goes, addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful. Over time, those little quirks and anomalies in the way a person behaves, thinks and acts start to add up, and those you love are transforming right in front of your eyes. When you see a family member or friend change for the worse, the thought they may be addicted to drugs and alcohol may start crossing your mind with increasing regularity.
If you suspect substance abuse in those you love and want to help, knowing what to look for is essential in finding the appropriate professional help. The following are 7 of the most common behaviors of addicted people.
Withdrawal and Isolation
One of the most common behaviors of addicted people is they becomes more isolated and withdrawn from family and friends as their drug and alcohol use escalates. As addiction grows stronger, the focus of daily living for the addict becomes more centered on obtaining and using their drug or drugs of choice. As a result, the time those who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse spend with family and friends start to decrease. When a loved one starts skipping family functions or other social events on a more regular basis, it may indicate that a substance abuse issue is occurring in their life.
When people become addicted to substances they feel a great deal of guilt and shame. As a result, they will do everything that is necessary to cover up or hide their use to family and friends. They become experts at guarding their computer and cell phone, and they become experts at manipulating others and telling half-truths and even outright lies in order to conceal their drug use. If they are confronted by a family member or friend, the addict will be on the defensive and become short in their replies.
They Abandon Hobbies
Another one of common behaviors of addicted people is they abandon hobbies and other past times that brought them pleasure and satisfaction. The simple reason why they abandon these hobbies is because they are focusing all of their energies on drug and alcohol use. When drug use takes over, the addict may become more anxious, encounter periods of depression and may display a general lack of motivation.
They Skip Work or School
The common thread seen in addicts is that the energy they put into their substance use takes up most or all of their available time during the day. When drug use becomes the number one thing on their daily calendar, they will have less time for important daily obligations such as attending classes at school or going to work. In the mind of the addict, they would rather go party or sleep in late to get rid of their hangover than force themselves to go school or work. If you notice that a friend, family member or other loved one go into work late, leave early, do careless work, or call in sick often, these behaviors could point to a substance abuse problem.
Money Comes and Goes Quickly
Not only is a drug and alcohol addiction time consuming, it also is financially consuming. Perhaps one of the most common behaviors of addicted people is the fact they are constantly asking for money. Any money they earn gets allocated to acquiring more drugs and they don’t have anything left to buy food, pay bills and generally take care of themselves. When an addict runs out of cash and cannot get extra funds from family or friends, they will often resort to selling or pawning things of value–whether it is their own property or other’s property– in order to get the money they need.
They Are Impulsive and Take Risks
The use of drugs and alcohol lowers a person’s inhibitions, and an obvious byproduct of this lack of inhibition is the addict engaging in behaviors that put themselves and others at risk. Whether it is driving at unsafe speeds, engaging in risky sexual behavior, jumping off of cliffs or other similar behaviors, acting impulsively can be seen as producing a “rush” or “high” much like drugs and alcohol.
Their Appearance Changes
The one behavior that often is the tipping point for people in discovering that a loved one has a drug abuse problem is the fact they don’t care about their personal hygiene or how they look. Over time, chronic substance abuse has devastating impacts on a person’s physical and mental health. When a person is fully addicted to substances, they are indifferent in regards to how they look and feel–and the physical affects of their addiction becomes harder to conceal.
What Should You Do If You Suspect Addiction?
If you are noticing that a friend or loved one is exhibiting the above behaviors, it is important to provide them support and encouragement to seek help. You need to avoid engaging in any enabling behaviors that will make their addictive behaviors worse. It is extremely important that you talk to an experienced addiction professional in order to understand what options are available to the addict to get better.