How to recognize when a loved one needs help

What Exactly is Addiction?

Addiction, or Substance Use Disorder (SUD), is defined as a physical and mental dependency on a substance, coupled with an inability to stop using the substance without adverse side effects. The beginning stages of addiction are often characterized by recreational substance use, which
can eventually turn into a SUD.
 
At this stage, the body will have become reliant on a substance to function and carry out daily activities. The individual will also experience physical and mental cravings when they are not using drugs. There are many signs and symptoms that can aid in deciphering whether someone is experiencing addiction.

Physical Symptoms

Weight Loss or Gain

An individual who is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol may prioritize these substances overproper nutrition and food consumption, causing malnourishment. Additionally, drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine can suppress one’s appetite, also causing weight loss.
In contrast, heavy consumption of calorie rich alcohol, like beer, can cause bloating and weight gain. The psychoactive compound in marijuana, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is an appetite stimulant and can also result in weight gain.

Changes in Body Odor

Drug and alcohol addiction may also result in changes in body odor. When someone is consumed in addiction, they may stop practicing regular hygienic routines due to the prioritization of drugs and/or alcohol.
Drugs and alcohol themselves can carry strange odors. Drugs such as marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and alcohol may leave lingering odors on the body and/or clothing.

Red and Drowsy Eyes

There are multiple drugs that, when used, can result in bloodshot eyes. Alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana are common drugs that create the expansion of blood vessels in the eyes, causing redness.

Marijuana use can also cause one’s eyes to become drowsy or droopy and the user may look asthough they are squinting or trying to keep their eyes from shutting

Various Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms can include insomnia, difficulty focusing, mood swings, aggression, bad temper, trembles, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, excessive sweating, hallucinations, and seizures.

These symptoms occur when someone who is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol stops taking them abruptly. Many of these symptoms can be very dangerous and may result in fatality if they are not given proper medical attention.

Social Signs

Excessive Lying

To protect drug and/or alcohol use, someone suffering from addiction may lie or quickly change the topic when confronted. They may also lie about where they are spending time and what they are doing.

Financial Distress

An addiction can be extremely expensive to maintain. Someone with an addiction may sell their personal property, frequently ask to borrow money, and experience a sudden depletion in finances.

Legal Issues

An individual with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol may incur a sudden increase in legal issues. They may experience an increase in fines, a stay in a holding cell, court appearances, and/or jail time.

Relational Neglect and/or Isolation

Those suffering from addiction will often neglect friends and family, either because they have prioritized their drug use over their relationships, they feel too guilty or shameful to be around them, or both.
Most of their relationships will be with individuals who also use drugs excessively. They could eventually experience long periods of isolation to hide both their drug use and shame surrounding it.

Getting Help

Someone with a SUD will usually recognize their own physical and social symptoms. Unfortunately, many of them will find it difficult to admit they are in trouble and will have an even harder time quitting on their own. It is important for the loved ones of someone suffering from addiction to understand symptoms and aid in getting them the help they need.