Great question and thanks for asking!
The indicators of addiction, depending on the type, are pretty much all alike. That is emotionally. Physically, however, they can be clearly different or you may have to really pay attention to the individual in question.
During my period of use, there were times you couldn’t tell at all (in the beginning) and there were times that even a blind bat could clearly see it. The ONLY one that couldn’t see it was me.
Here is a little schooling on what exactly a chemical addiction is:
1) Compulsive behaviors that have short-term benefits, but are destructive long-term.
2) The individual knows that the behavior is bad for them, but continues to do it.
3) The individual’s relationship with the mind-altering substance continues regardless of the negative effects it has on not only themselves, but on those around them.
Now, technically, there is much more to the story, but this will help with what is going on inside their mind. This will also prepare you for what you may end up seeing, if you don’t already. In my opinion, educating yourself on this subject is the most important thing for you and them. It is and will be your biggest weapon!
So, what are some of the behaviors that this person may start showing? Here are some things you may have noticed that can be pretty obvious if you are paying attention. Or, they may not be, but I can almost guarantee are happening inside the individual.
* He/She may obsess or fantasize about the substance as a coping mechanism. You may or may not be able to see this, depending on the severity of the situation.
* He/She may display severe or inconsistent mood changes. Typically, an addict consumes a substance for some sort of inner relief and pleasure. You may see them extremely happy and energetic one day or even several days at a time. Then suddenly it shifts to someone who is quiet, tired and very irritable. For a period they may seem interested in being involved is most activities, but then it quickly changes. They may blame it on not feeling well or they may shut you out, by things such as ignoring phone calls. The “being sick” excuse is very common. These examples can go both ways though. For instance, they may be happy and energetic for a period because they are “high” and may get tired and irritable when they are “coming down,” or no longer have the drug in their system. Or, in reverse, they may be happy and energetic for a period because they are not on any mind altering substance, but then once they are, they may seem tired or irritable. That all depends on the substance and their chemical reaction to it. To state the obvious, if they suddenly seem slow, are not making sense, are being irrational or are extremely tired, go with your gut if you believe it is an addiction problem. They’re probably consuming something.
* He/She may overlook or “forget” important social, recreational or occupational duties/activities. This was especially true with myself when I didn’t have the substance in me. Granted, I could have always turned to alcohol because it was easily accessible (which I did). But, the substances that are not (prescription pain meds in my case) always accessible can take a toll on the addict. They may not have the money. They may take more of a medication given by a doctor than the dose the doctor gave. This obviously leaves them with a period of time, where they have nothing. Be sure to pay very close attention to this. Take notes, seriously. If you don’t see a prescription and are not able to count the doses left, jot down the days that the behavior (good/bad) are occurring. You may start seeing a pattern. Normally, controlled substances can only be refilled a certain amount of days prior to the ending of the last prescription. Sometimes this can also differ with the pharmacy. Some are more lenient than others. If you happen to notice that they are switching pharmacies or are using multiple, that is a red flag. Don’t ever be afraid to “lend” your opinion to the pharmacy or prescribing doctor, especially if you are sure the individual is having a problem with medication. You could save their life.
* He/She may be on a constant pursuit of the substance, not caring about the consequences. Again, watch for patterns and excuses. Do they suddenly have to work longer? Do they want to go shopping by themselves? Do they want to do things by themselves that they would normally not want to do alone? Do they leave the room or the premises to speak on the phone? Do they use the bathroom more often then usual? Do they always carry a drink with them (could have something in it or they may just need it to take the substance. An addict is ALWAYS prepared when it comes to this stuff)? Do they seem to be the last one out the door because they “forgot” something? Again, trust your gut feeling.
* He/She may be increasing or obtaining stronger doses of the substance because the current amount may not be producing the same effect or high. Did their prescription dose change? Is the prescription bottle an old bottle that they may just be reusing? Does the pill description on the bottle match the pills inside? Are they complaining about body aches or saying they feel like they have the flu? Their body may be going through withdrawal, even if they are still taking it. Their body may need more to feed the addiction.
* He/She may have an ongoing battle or desire to limit the amount of the substance they are taking. You may or may not see this. Don’t mistake days of normal behavior, more than often as being completely recovered. They may have good intentions and want to quit. They may hate the way it makes them feel. But, with the absence of the substance comes racing thoughts and unmanageable coping skills. Without help, most addicts eventually continue using.
* He/She may get behind on bills or just not pay them altogether. They may stop participating in activities they require money. They may ask to borrow money. They may also resort to stealing and/or selling things in order to pay for their habit. They may even try to collect on illegal activity such as insurance fraud. Many times, they will go to almost any length to get what they want.
Here is a list of a few of the physical side affects of substance users:
* Tremors (shaking that is uncontrollable, especially in the hands)
* Increased acne or dark circles
* Muscle tension
* Dilated pupils
* Weight loss
* Bruises easily
* Dehydration (Are they waking up in the middle of the night or in the morning extremely thirsty?)
This is basic information and I would advise you to take some time to read further into this illness. Also, Al anon and participation in group forums and such is a great way to learn, while getting it off of your chest! Addiction is a family and friends disease. Once a loved one has it, you all do. It affects so many people which can be devastating for all. But it also means that you have more people involved to combat the illness and help the individual with the addiction. The first step to helping them is to help yourself. This requires a lot of patience and recovery does not happen over night, just as the addiction didn’t happen over night. Be two steps ahead of them and be strict, not allowing them to take advantage of your feelings. Allowing them to continuously take advantage of you, allows them to continue their habit. It will never turn out good for either of you, especially if that person is no longer here to enjoy this world with!
Thank you so much Ann for your question :) I hope I’ve helped a bit. Please feel free to email me with anything else you may need www.freeaddictionadvice.com under the contact section or directly to my email firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ You are not Alone ~
There is always room to improve things in your life. It may be hard and even scary to act on that, but what a rush…that powerful feeling you get when you’ve accomplished an improvement, that you’d been longing for. Give it your all even if that is only one step at a time. You’re still moving forward! 👍
You are not alone!
Well, you are not alone! Not if I can help it. Feel free to comment here about your fear of being alone…fear of thinking nobody will understand what you are going through. Or contact me personally and I will help any way possible. Your personal info will be strictly confidential. Don’t give up, as you never know what tomorrow will bring. Your help could be here starting now. Wherever you’ve been, I’ve probably been there and done it. No judgements here :)
Meet Mr. and Mrs. Crystal Meth.
I destroy homes – I tear families apart.
I take your children and that’s just a start.
I’m more valued than diamonds, more precious than gold.
The sorrow I bring is a sight to behold.
If you need me, remember, I’m easily found.
I live all around you, in school and in town.
I live with the rich, I live with the poor.
I live just down the street and maybe next door.
I’m made in a lab, but not one like you think.
I can be made under the kitchen sink,
In your child’s closet, and even out in the woods.
If this scares you to death, then it certainly should.
I have many names. But there’s one you’ll know best.
I’m sure you’ve heard of me, my name is Crystal Meth.
My power is awesome, try me, you’ll see.
But if you do, you may never break free.
Just try me once and I might let you go.
But if you try me twice, then I’ll own your soul.
When I possess you, you’ll steal and you’ll lie.
You’ll do what you have to do, just to get high.
The crimes you commit for my narcotic charms,
Will be worth the pleasures you feel in my arms.
You’ll lie to your mother; you’ll steal from your dad.
When you see their tears, you must feel sad.
Just forget your morals and how you were raised.
I’ll be your conscience, I’ll teach you my ways.
I take kids from their parents; I take parents from their kids.
I turn people from God, I separate friends.
I’ll take everything from you, your looks and your pride.
I’ll be with you always, right by your side.
You’ll give up everything, your family, your home.
Your money, your true friend, then you’ll be alone.
I’ll take and take till you have no more to give.
When I finish with you, you’ll be lucky to live.
If you try me, be warned, this is not a game.
If I’m given the chance, I’ll drive you insane.
I’ll ravage your body; I’ll control your mind.
I’ll own you completely; your soul will be mine.
The nightmares I’ll give you when you’re lying in bed,
And the voices you’ll hear from inside your head.
The sweats, the shakes, and the visions from me.
I want you to know these things are gifts from me.
But then it’s too late, and you’ll know in your heart
That you are now mine and we shall not part.
You’ll regret that you tried me (they always do).
But you came to me, not I to you.
You knew this would happen.
Many times you’ve been told.
But you challenged my power,
You chose to be bold.
You could have said no and then walked away.
If you could live that day over now, what would you say?
My power is awesome, as I told you before.
I can take your life and make it so dim and sore.
I’ll be your master and you’ll be my slave.
I’ll even go with you when you go to your grave.
Now that you’ve met me, what will you do?
Will you try me or not? It’s all up to you.
I can show you more misery than words can tell.
Come take my hand, let me lead you to Hell.
Please click link to view My Story & Testimony. And don’t forget, sharing is caring! Please, please share this! You never know who may be struggling with an addiction or just hard times in life. Be the one to help spread the word, this is a really bad illness that needs to be placed in the light by us all. Many many thanks to each and every one of you!