When it comes down to it, addiction is a serious problem that faces a lot of people. The thing is, if people you care about are addicted to something, how can you tell? Is there some sort of warning sign or signal that you can use to determine if a loved one of yours is addicted to something? The Mayo Clinic defines drug addiction as,
A dependence on an illegal drug or a medication.
Dependence leads to a series of changes in the personality and well-being of an individual to the point where you may be able to tell if the person in question is indeed addicted to a substance. However, because of the tendency for normal human behavior to display one or more of the symptoms, there is a very real possibility that a simple change in personality and habits may be misconstrued as a sign of addiction. Here are a few signs and symptoms that an addicted person may display.
Change in Behavior
When individuals become addicted to a substance, then they find themselves unable to stop themselves from seeking it out. This can lead to a change in behavioral patterns for such individuals in order to obtain the drug they so crave. The University of Indiana states that addiction so affects the subject that,
The individual becomes obsessed (constantly thinks of) the object, activity, or substance and will seek it out, often to the detriment of work or interpersonal relationships.
Continued behavioral changes ranging from a change in attitude to be more aggressive to the individual acting at a more withdrawn state can both be considered a serious indicator of addiction. In any case, any major behavioral changes indicate some sort of problem in the individual’s life, even if drugs are not involved.
Circle of Friends
When a person becomes addicted to a substance, they tend to spend more time around individuals that either share their addiction or make it easy for them to stoke the fire. Because of that, the friends they hang around with change and a drastic change in the group of friends or acquaintances an individual has can be a telling sign in determining if they are addicted to a substance. Harvard Medical Publications notes that,
Addicts take more than they intend, repeatedly try to cut down or stop, spend much time obtaining the drug and recovering from its effects, give up other pursuits for the sake of the drug, and continue to use it despite serious physical or psychological harm.
The first set of relationships that suffer from the inflated importance of the drug on the individual’s life is more often than not the close friends. Eventually, if a friend stops hanging out with the rest of the group, it can be a sign of looming addiction.
Performance at Work
Drug addiction affects the individual in many ways, but one of the most harmful is the effect it has on a person’s work performance. Generally, the motivation of a worker is towards getting a job done for the satisfaction it brings. However, addiction supplants this urge and replaces it with the need to get the drug which the person craves. Because of this, many addicts forgo employment as it serves to detract them from their new primary objective, namely, finding more of the substance they are tied to. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence estimates that,
Drug abuse costs employers $81 billion annually.
Performance of a job is one of the factors that a normal, contributing member of society engages in and when a person is unable to do so, it shows their reluctance to be a part of society and can be considered dangerous behavior.
Of the things that affect addicts most often, family problems are usually at the forefront. These problems are usually tied to their addiction in a number of ways. The cost of the drugs usually requires them to attain money they don’t have. In order to do that, they may fall back on friends to borrow from, and failing that, they go to their family members. When the situation worsens and they are no longer lent money, they may resort to stealing. In addition to this, addiction can also lead to the person lying to their family members, mostly about what is done with the money they borrow or items they pilfer. Familial tensions would be noticeably strained the longer the addicted person remains tied to the drug. Eventually, as is the case in many situations, the addicted person is ejected from the house because he or she no longer contributes to the betterment of the household, instead, presenting an added strain on the financial obligations of the family.
The consumption of an addictive substance changes a person’s looks drastically to the point where someone who knows the person can spot the change in said physical appearance. Due to the demands the drug has on an individual, certain aspects of his or her life suffer. In addition to the familial relations and friendships mentioned previously, the individual tends to pass over simple personal hygiene, resulting in a scraggly or unkempt appearance. This may even descend into further unhygienic behavior when the individual stops taking showers. Typical symptoms of personal appearance can also include a massive weight loss or gain from associated side effects of consuming drugs. Sometimes, as the dependence on the drug progresses, the individual achieves a haunted look, as the eyes lose focus often and the ability to focus on minor tasks is all but gone. These symptoms are usually attributable to someone in the height of an addiction.
Addiction isn’t something that shows distinct symptoms like other diseases. These symptoms described here cannot be taken as the final arbiter of whether a person you know is addicted to a substance or not. At best, it can provide a guideline from where you can confront the person you suspect to be an addict. However, because of the fluid nature of addiction and the way it affects different people, the only way to ensure that you catch this problem before it burgeons is to be constantly vigilant. Ask questions and participate in discussions with your friends to decide if they are engaging in self-destructive behavior.