What Does Addiction Look Like?

Addiction to drugs or alcohol will change the behavior of an individual in many ways. Some changes will be very obvious, while others will not be as noticeable. If you suspect a loved one of having a drug or alcohol addiction, there are specific warning signs to look for.

What Does Addiction Look Like?What Does Addiction Look Like?

Below are some of the signs of physical and behavioral changes to be aware of:

Mental and Physical Changes

Addiction interferes with many brain functions that will psychologically affect an individual. One of these effects is mood swings. There may be dramatic changes in mood or more subtle ones. Initially most substances will cause an increase in dopamine levels in the brain that produce feelings of euphoria, calmness and well-being. Stimulant drugs activate the central nervous system and cause a temporary increase in energy levels. Your loved one may become talkative, excitable and experience a decrease in his appetite and sleep cycle. He may become highly alert, restless, agitated and experience paranoia and panic attacks. To the contrary, the adverse effects of depressant drugs and alcohol may produce slurred speech, reduced attention, clumsiness, fatigue, confusion, dizziness and sedation.

There may be a pattern of repetitive speech that the addict is not aware of. The eyes may appear red and the pupils will be dilated. Your loved one may have symptoms similar to having a cold, like a runny nose and excessive sniffing. They may appear to look pale and undernourished and may exhibit a change in eating habits. There may be noticeable weight loss and clothing will become too big and not fit properly.

Attitude Changes and Financial Struggles

There may be a problem regarding school or employment absences and weak performance. The person may also exhibit an indifferent attitude toward school or work. They may also begin to miss important engagements and start to isolate themselves and become secretive about where they are going and who they are with. Other signs include beginning to abandon family, friends and activities that were once enjoyed, and make new friends who use drugs or drink alcohol. Your loved one may start having relationship and marital problems and become estranged from family. Financial problems may begin to increase. He or she may also begin to have legal problems from criminal activity related to acquiring or selling drugs.

Change in Thought Process

The person’s thought process and communication can also be affected. They may become argumentative, defensive or irritated if uncomfortable with the conversation. Confusion is common, as well as acting obnoxious or silly. The conversation will usually be dominated by drug or alcohol related topics and they will offer up all kinds of rationalizations, justifications, excuses and explanations for using. Denial of the problem or an attempt to minimize the seriousness of the problem and its consequences is common. During conversation, the addict may also attempt to keep changing the subject to avoid owning up to his or her problem. Another defense mechanism is blaming others or situation for the consequences of substance abuse. A loss of control over thoughts, emotions and behavior, as well as hostility toward others can occur. The individual may start to engage in risky behavior and exhibit unexplained injuries or accidents.

Experiencing Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms are also common and may include anxiety, jumpiness, trembling, sweating, nausea, vomiting, shaking, depression, headache, blackouts and more. Severe withdrawal symptoms can be life threatening such as seizures, heart attacks, breathing cessation, coma and death.

Getting Help

Your loved one’s life depends on a complete total recovery from addiction. They will need the help and support of family and friends. Knowing the warning signs of addiction, and intervening on their behalf, may be just the thing that saves their life. To learn more about the treatment programs available at White Sands Treatment Center, and to speak to a caring addiction specialist, dial  now. 

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