No one wants to imagine their loved one is struggling with a substance abuse disorder, but statistics are not on our side. This prevalent problem is on the rise, with drug-related overdose deaths continuing to climb year over year.

Both drug and alcohol abuse can take a heavy toll on the user, and the changes can be heartbreaking to witness. That’s why it’s crucial to be able to recognize addiction, from the early signs of trouble to serious red flags. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to tell when your loved one is abusing drugs or alcohol.

Health Changes

One of the most obvious ways to spot a substance abuse problem is by watching for health changes.

Look for bloodshot eyes, bloody noses, and frequent illnesses. A sudden weight change, especially unexpected weight loss, should be a red flag. As the substance abuse progresses, you may notice their skin, teeth, nails, and hair looking less and less healthy.

Behavioral Shifts

If your loved one’s behavior does a complete 180 out of nowhere, you may be looking at a drug or alcohol addiction.

Common changes include things like sudden and frequent mood swings, aggressive behavior, irritability, or attitude problems. Your loved one may also have less energy than they used to and spend more time sleeping.

In some cases, mental health disorders like depression or anxiety may worsen with substance abuse. If you notice these conditions taking over, your loved one may need help.

Changes in Friends and Activities

With alcohol and drug addiction, a person’s usual activities may change. They may become apathetic toward things they once enjoyed or change their entire routine.

In some cases, their friend group may change as well. This may happen as they spend more time with people who engage in or support their substance abuse.

If they find a codependent partner, this person may care for and enable your loved one’s destructive behaviors. This is why getting treatment for a recovering codependent can be so crucial.

Sudden Secrecy

People struggling with drug or alcohol addiction don’t want to admit they have a problem. They will often work hard to hide their addiction, acting evasive and failing to answer questions. They may lie about where they’ve been or who they spend their time with.

As this behavior worsens, your loved one may also lie about destructive behaviors like stealing. This is more likely if they’re starting to struggle financially as they try to get their hands on more drugs or alcohol.

Recognize Addiction in Your Loved Ones

Sometimes, knowing how to recognize addiction in the people you love can save them from years of pain, trauma, and the negative health effects of addiction. If you’ve spotted any of the signs above, reach out to your loved one about getting the help they need. Working with a local treatment center on their next recovery steps can help.

If these tips have helped you, be sure to check out our other posts for more of the expert guidance you need.