Addiction is a chronic mental and medical illness that affects the brain and it has adversely impacted millions of people across the United States. Substance abuse and addiction can cause not only physical harm but also emotional and behavioral problems. People suffering from addiction cannot control their impulses and when addiction is left untreated, it can potentially lead to more life-threatening consequences. If you know or suspect that a loved one is facing addiction, it is important to first identify symptoms and consider consulting a mental health professional for advice on how to proceed. Remember that addiction is neither your fault nor the fault of your loved one.
Physical Signs of Addiction
Does your loved one seem physically unhealthy? Addiction can lead to and aggravate different types of symptoms. To determine whether a loved one is facing addiction, one of the first steps that you should take is to look for clear physical signs. If you think that your loved one may be struggling with addiction, the general physical symptoms of addiction to look for are described below.
- Repetitive speech patterns, red eyes, and dilated pupils. Irregular speech patterns are the result of changes in areas of the brain that control that function, and this, along with changes in eye appearance, is a direct response to the excessive consumption of substances. These are indicators that can be detected right away.
- Over-active or underactive. Depending on the substance, there can be a significant increase or decrease in activity and energy levels. Watch to see if your spouse displays random bursts of energy or appears to be more fatigued throughout the day.
- Weight loss and change in eating habits. This may be exhibited by the way their clothes are looser and do not fit their frame the same way. They may also look pale and/or undernourished. You may notice your loved one eating more frequently or they may even abstain from food.
- Body odor and/or other unusual odors. This is caused by an increased lack of personal hygiene, which can be linked to a growing inability to cope with stress contributing to drops in energy and activity levels. Due to the impulsive nature that results from addiction, your loved one may not think of their healthy habits.
If you happen to recognize these signs in a loved one, it is important to also look for emotional and behavioral signs because these symptoms are all linked to each other. It is never too soon to voice your concerns to your loved one if you suspect they may be suffering from an addiction.
Emotional Signs of Addiction
Addiction can cause a variety of different physical symptoms, but it can also cause emotional and behavioral symptoms. Producing a variety of negative emotions, it can make relationships with their family, friends, teachers, and coworkers frustrating and difficult. Detailed below are common emotional symptoms of addiction to watch out for.
- Denial. This can be seen in diversion and minimization of the problem: admitting that the issue exists but changing the topic to avoid discussing the seriousness of it. A person suffering may or may not recognize the negative ramifications, but are unable to stop due to a loss of control.
- Decreased ability to handle stress. This can also lead to loss of interest in the people in their lives and the activities that they frequently partook in. They may also become confused easily.
- Increased irritability. Your loved one is likely to become more defensive and argumentative. This often leads to rationalizing and blaming behavior. This includes finding excuses and other explanations for their using behavior, as well as placing the blame on another person or situation for their behavior.
Behavioral Signs of Addiction
The physical and emotional changes in a person who is suffering addiction are accompanied by a spectrum of behavioral changes. Behavioral symptoms begin to develop as changes in the brain begin to occur. It is important to remember that your loved one is not a bad person. These changes in the brain can drive a person suffering to experience impulsive and compulsive behaviors.
These impulsive and compulsive changes can lead to more risk-taking behavior. This is because the addiction has hijacked your spouse’s control and judgment. This could lead to them engaging in criminal activity, stealing money, experiencing financial difficulty, and driving under the influence. A person suffering from addiction may also have very strained relationships due to their behavior. This could be due to lying to family members, stealing, or other negative behaviors. Those suffering may notice that they no longer enjoy hobbies and activities that they used to partake in. Due to the drugs affecting the reward pathway in the brain, it will become very difficult for your loved one to experience that same euphoric feeling from anything else.
What Can I Do to Help?
You may be wondering how you can help your spouse who is suffering from addiction. You will want to make sure they know that you are open to having an honest and judgment-free conversation. This time is not when you should take out your anger on your spouse. Keep the conversation light and positive. While you should provide support, you should also cease any enabling behavior. This includes lending money to them or lying for them. End the conversation with a call to action and suggest that they get professional help.
When To Seek Professional Help
If your loved one is struggling from addiction, they need to seek treatment with the help of health professionals as soon as possible. Anyone can achieve sobriety regardless of how long they have been struggling with this mental disease. Addiction is treatable with the appropriate treatment program, which consists of combinations of behavioral therapy, prescribed medications, evaluation and treatment for other underlying conditions, and follow-ups. Tailoring treatment programs to address the distinct needs of each patient, the team of professionals at Arizona Addiction Recovery Center is dedicated to guiding and assisting their patients on their way to recovery. Your loved one will be given unmatched medical care until they are healthy and back on their feet. Now is the time to get help, so call today!
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