Drug addiction is an overwhelming and complex problem that most individuals are certain will never happen to them. It is therefore quite upsetting when one actually does fall into the trap of drug addiction, and few individuals know what to do about it. It is not unusual for a drug addict to attempt to isolate himself in his drug problems in an effort to hide them from others. Unfortunately, this means that he is often of the opinion that no one understands what he is going through and no one cares what happens to him, when the truth is actually the complete opposite.
Family members and friends are usually very supportive of a loved one’s desire to get help for their drug abuse or addiction problems. However, family members and friends who are waiting for a loved one to admit to their drug problems and their need for help are essentially playing with fire, as the individual may never actually reach out for this help. In fact he may even refuse help offered to him, unless the individual offering it is gently but firmly persistent. So how does one recognize a drug addict so they can offer help?
Signs of Addiction
When an individual is addicted to drug substances, there are ten things they are bound to do:
- Exhibit a complete lack of interest in anything and everything around them. This may be one of the most obvious signs of drug addiction because an individual can appear to have lost their normal personality traits. Friends, family members, hobbies, and social activities the individual once enjoyed and devoted time to are set aside in favor of drug use, and the individual’s excuses for the change are often entirely empty of what would appear to be a legitimate reason.
- Exhibit physical signs of drug use. No matter the drug in use, all drug addicts exhibit some basic physical signs such as bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, sniffling, itching, injection marks, puffy face, unusual skin color and more. Many drug addicts seek to hide the signs of drug use, but there can come a point where they simply don’t care anymore and these signs become quite plainly obvious.
- Exhibit changes in their physical appearance. When drug use takes over an individual’s life and becomes their main priority, something as basic as taking care of their body and possessions suffers the consequences. The individual may experience sudden and dramatic weight loss or gain, smell unclean and look unkempt, wear dirty and wrinkled clothes and more. These changes are often so unlike the individual as to be quite obvious to those around him.
- Carry around and keep drug paraphernalia. Most drug use requires the individual to have various “tools”. The most common drug paraphernalia is cigarette papers, pipes, syringes, lighters, burnt spoons, bongs, razor blades and mirrors or glass. There may be other things as well, and one of the signs that they may fall into the category of drug paraphernalia is if they are being carefully hidden.
- Exhibit sudden and dramatic mood swings. Whatever moods the individual normally works through, drugs will cause dramatic shifts in these patterns. A normally calm and pleasant individual may become hyper and over-critical. A normally active and intense individual may become very quiet and sedate. Drug use can also cause the individual to shift moods mid-stream, so that they are happily laughing about something one moment and sobbing their eyes out about it the very next moment.
- Exhibiting reclusive behavior. A drug addict will normally become very private about their life and activities in an effort to hide their drug use habits. They may sneak off to their room or out of the house for long periods of time and without explanation, and they may become defensive and upset when questioned about these behavior patterns.
- Exhibit changes in their normal routine. A drug addict may begin to do poorly at school or work and drop their responsibilities at home. They may begin to hang out with different social groups and adhere to a different sleep schedule. Whatever was once normal is less important to them than continuing to obtain and use drugs, so there will undoubtedly be a change in their normal routines to incorporate those things that allow for or even support and encourage drug use.
- Exhibit erratic behavior. Most individuals avoid risky, erratic behaviors for obvious health and safety reasons, but drug addicts are not as clear-headed as they would need to be in order to make sane choices. They may seem incredibly excited, giddy or depressed, and this type of erratic behavior is a sign of possible drug use.
- Exhibit sleep problems. Since drug substances work to alter the normal patterns and functions of the human body, it follows that they can wreak havoc on one’s sleep patterns. A drug addict is likely to stay up late, oversleep, take excessive naps and generally appear exhausted.
- Exhibit defensive behavior regarding their drug use. A drug addict is often aware of the fact that they have a problem with drug use and they need help. However, this does not mean that they are ready to admit to self or others that they cannot resolve the problem on their own. In fact, they are often highly sensitive to the fact that they cannot resolve their drug use on their own. For this reason they will become defensive and even aggressively argumentative when confronted about their drug use habits and problems.
It is important to understand drug addiction and how it affects the individual. Once you have determined that a loved one is suffering from drug addiction, you can render the help they need in order to take back control of their life.