Drug and alcohol addiction thrive in the darkness. Most people who have a problem with drugs or alcohol keep their addiction a secret. After all, smoking crack, abusing prescription medication, or shooting meth are not the kinds of things you talk about at family dinners, bring up at work-related functions, or discuss at social gatherings. People who have a substance abuse problem usually suffer in silence. Addiction and secrecy go hand in hand.
For the people who love an addict or alcoholic, this can be incredibly frustrating. In spite of numerous attempts to confront someone with a substance abuse problem, the addict or alcoholic will continue to lie about his or her drinking or drugging. This is usually not done to be malicious. More often than not, someone with a substance abuse problem is in denial that a problem exists. Denial is a defense mechanism that exists in the mind of the substance abuser to shield him or her from the disturbing truth that they are, in fact, an addict or alcoholic.
Acknowledging denial is an important step in the recovery process – not only for the addicted person but also for those closest to him or her. It is important for the loved ones of someone with an addiction problem to be educated about substance abuse. As GI Joe used to say, knowing is half the battle.
Learning the signs that someone close to you is abusing drugs or alcohol can be the difference between life and death. When you are armed with the truth, you can stop being confused about whether or not someone you care about is battling a substance abuse problem. Rather than being baffled by lies and confounded by confusion, you can get into positive action.
Here are the top six signs that someone close to you is abusing drugs or alcohol:
- You have a gut feeling that your friend or family member is using drugs. In most cases, if you think someone is abusing drugs or alcohol, they probably are. Intuition doesn’t lie. If you believe someone is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, listen to your gut. People do not sit around wondering if their loved one is addicted to drugs when they are not addicted to drugs. People do not wonder if someone close to them is drunk if they are not. If it walks like a drunk and it quacks like a druggie……it must be a drunk or a druggie. Regardless of what this person may be telling you, it might be time to talk to them about getting professional help. An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is always an option if they won’t consider checking themselves in somewhere.
- Your friend or loved one goes missing a lot or they have a lot of time unaccounted for. Drug addiction thrives in isolation. People who abuse drugs and alcohol do a lot of drugging and drinking alone, or they get wasted in the company of other people who get high or drunk. This is to hide the reality of their condition from the people closest to them; people who have the potential to cast light on the dark shadows of their addiction. After all, nobody wants to get high or drunk around people who have the potential to ruin their buzz. If the person in question seems to be missing in action quite frequently, and they have excuse after excuse about where they have been, there is room for concern.
- There are a lot of missed days of school or work. People who have an addiction to drugs or alcohol do their best to manage life; they really do. Unfortunately, addiction always wins in the end. If the person in question seems to be missing a lot of work or school, he or she might have a drug or alcohol problem. Hangovers and all-night binges are often to blame. Although someone with a substance abuse problem does their best to be somewhat responsible and try to juggle their addiction and their responsibilities, science won’t let them. You simply cannot go to work if you’ve been smoking crack all night, just like you cannot go to school on two hours sleep after drinking a fifth of whiskey.
- Personal hygiene is an issue. Has the person you care about obviously let their personal hygiene slide? If so, he or she might be addicted. Showering, brushing hair, taking care of teeth, and practicing good hygiene all go to the wayside when addiction or alcoholism is involved……so does wearing clean clothes. If the person in question has a generally unkempt or slovenly appearance and they didn’t use to, you might be dealing with someone who has a substance abuse problem.
- Money is missing. People with a drug or alcohol problem are notorious for losing money, missing money, and stealing money. No matter the case, when someone with a drug or alcohol addiction is hanging around, money is going to be missing from someone. If you have noticed money missing when the person in question comes around, it is likely that he or she is stealing it from you to support their habit. If this person is constantly in need of a loan or financial assistance because they “lost” money somewhere or it is mysteriously “missing,” you might want to consider that he or she is abusing drugs or alcohol and invite them to a 12-Step meeting with you.
- You have observed bizarre behavior. Does this person slur their words? Does he or she have dilated pupils and weird-looking eyes? Does the person you care about say strange things and exhibit bizarre behavior? If so, these are all signs of substance abuse. There are physical tale-tell signs that someone has been using drugs or alcohol and you can usually see them when they are staring you in the face. All you have to do is look. This goes back to Sign #1…….if you believe you are looking at addiction or alcoholism, believe your eyes. They don’t lie. Addicts and alcoholics do.
If you have already tried everything under the sun to help someone you care about to overcome a substance abuse problem, send them this article, which offers 15 reasons to get sober ASAP. Hopefully, it will get through to them.