6 Signs You Need Help with Addiction
The disease of addiction has an array of symptoms, working in combination to create problems which impair an individual’s ability to function and result in a state of life distress. Recognizing these signs of addiction will help you decide if you or a loved one should check into a sober living house or outpatient treatment program.
A clinical diagnosis of addiction falls into a category called “substance-related addictive disorders.”1 Individuals suffering from addiction experience powerful cravings and struggle unsuccessfully to remain clean and sober, even when the harmful consequences of substance abuse appear obvious.Are you wondering if you or a loved one needs treatment? Seeking professional help to deal with the physical, social, and psychological impacts of substance abuse starts with recognizing these 6 warning signs of addiction.
1. Neglecting Daily Life and Responsibilities
Addiction is a condition that causes isolation and anti-social symptoms. Hiding drinking or illegal substance abuse leads to a life of secrecy, and healthy relationships may be broken as commitments and responsibilities begin to go unmet.
Under the influence, the effects might be hard to see, but to clear-eyed observers, the results are apparent. Until the individual has the opportunity to recover in a sober living environment, these impacts on daily life will only increase in severity:
- Avoiding problems or situations by using drugs or alcohol
- Sacrificing other activities that used to bring enjoyment
- Damaging the trust earned with coworkers, friends, and family
- Losing interest in pursuing hobbies and education
- Missing important family events and personal appointments
- Living in denial of the changes addiction is causing in daily life
- Experiencing legal and financial difficulties as a result of substance use
2. Allowing Drugs to Become the Highest Priority
As the brain and body become dependent on drugs or alcohol, priorities become unbalanced. In an environment where the drug is readily available, it becomes the primary focus of daily thought and activity, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else.
Shifting time, money, and mental attention to acquiring, using, and covering up drug use becomes more important than paying rent or buying groceries. Only by removing access to the addictive substance in sober living homes or treatment centers can addicted individuals regain perspective and overcome these symptoms:1
- Obsessive thinking about the substance and when they can use again
- Compulsive, drug-seeking behavior, causing frequent unexplained absences
- Stashing or hiding drugs and alcohol to prevent ever being completely out
- Steadily (or suddenly) losing interest in appearance, grooming, and hygiene
3. Accepting High-Risk or Dangerous Situations
As perspective becomes distorted by these powerful chemicals, activities which would normally be identified as risky or dangerous may become acceptable or even normalized by repeated exposure. Facing past behavior patterns and recognizing their consequences is part of the healing treatment that rehab programs and facilities provide.
Over time, even highly emotional or frightening events lose their ability to shock someone in the throes of addiction. Dangerous or hurtful behavior can become a way of life.
Consider these facts about the links between addiction and high-risk behavior:
- Over one million people are arrested each year driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, risking death, injury, and property damage to themselves and others.2
- Addiction is also linked to sex crimes, increasing the likelihood of being both a perpetrator and a victim.3
- 40% of child abusers were drinking at the time the abuse occurred.3
- Individuals who are struggling with addiction are more likely to steal money or end up in debt to criminal suppliers of drugs.
4. Developing or Dealing with a Co-Occurring Mental Illness
More than 20 million people in the U.S. have a substance abuse disorder and, of those, approximately 40% also have a mental health issue.4 These co-occurring conditions need to be treated simultaneously at an outpatient treatment facility or a sober living house to help prevent a cycle of relapse.
Rather than trying to separate these factors, they should be dealt with as facets of the same problem. With medical care, medications, and counseling, a comprehensive treatment program will help treat these intertwined symptoms of mental illness and addictive behavior:
- Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol to relieve symptoms of mental illness
- Treating the symptoms of addiction with other substances to “come down” or “sober up”
- Withdrawal from social interaction, flat affect, or a loss of connection to emotions
- Increasing depression and anxiety caused by pre-existing conditions and the real-life consequences of addiction
- The possibility of developing psychosis (having a psychotic break), schizophrenia, or falling victim to suicidal thoughts and behaviors
5. Making Determined but Unsuccessful Attempts to Quit
Recovering addicts often need professional medical care to get past the withdrawal symptoms of highly addictive substances like alcohol, heroin, cocaine, opioids, or methamphetamines. Very often, an individual makes at least one attempt to stop using but is unable to cope with the root causes and physical consequences of the disease without expert support and guidance.
A relapse can leave someone feeling like they have let themselves and their loved ones down, but, in fact, it is very difficult to overcome substance abuse on your own. Some indications that willpower and self-help may not be enough to overcome addiction include:
- Lack of a safe, sober, structured environment in which to detox and learn about sober living
- Few natural supports are available in the form of family and friends committed to helping with recovery
- Withdrawal symptoms occur, including strong cravings, digestive issues, sweats, seizures, muscle cramps, or nerve pain
- Relapsing after enduring physical withdrawal symptoms and achieving sobriety, indicating an unresolved cause may be involved
6. Ignoring Health Issues Caused by Drug Abuse or Alcoholism
Drug abuse and alcoholism have devastating effects on the body, sometimes gradually over the long term and sometimes with insidious speed. As these health issues become apparent, victims of addiction are told directly that they must stop using and yet they often continue despite the obvious price being paid.
Even face to face with scans, x-rays, and blood tests that show how drug use is affecting their bodies, the ability to deny reality, which is a symptom of addiction, comes directly into play, causing the need for professional treatment services like:
- 24/7 supervision to prevent access to drugs or alcohol during detox and prevent overdosing due to high tolerance
- Supervised medication to ease severe withdrawal symptoms and cravings
- Counseling, therapy, and/or medication in a sober living facility to treat co-occurring mental health conditions during recovery
- Medical treatment of liver, heart, kidneys, lungs, or nervous system damage caused by drug use
- Simultaneous treatment of infectious conditions associated with drug use, such as HIV, hepatitis C, endocarditis, and cellulitis5
How to Talk to Your Loved One About These Signs
If you see the signs that someone else needs help with addiction, it can be difficult to know how to start that conversation. Your concern is best expressed as just that—a sincere desire to help.
- Talk primarily about your concern for their health, happiness, and wellbeing.
- Offer resources, information, and tools to help them move forward.
- Keep bringing the subject up with calm compassion, knowing that one of these times your loved one will be receptive to your message.
- Suggest and support further treatment if a relapse or setback happens.
- Express your hope for their recovery and your confidence in their ability to choose sobriety.
Finding Full Recovery from Substance Abuse Disorder
Substance-related addictive disorders are considered chronic, relapsing diseases. Each individual may have unique factors that contribute to the causes of their disorder but, with a full suite of evidence-based treatments and therapies available, full recovery is possible.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) not only provides valuable research and direction in the modern medical science of addiction treatment, they also provide accreditation to nationally recognized leaders in recovery services. RECO Institute’s sober living homes, in partnership with RECO Intensive’s Outpatient programs, have achieved this highly sought-after accreditation, making your choice for recovery in Delray Beach, FL an easy one.
If a member of your family or you are struggling with these serious warning signs of addiction, reach out to RECO Institute today. We understand both the challenges and the empowering rewards of overcoming substance dependency and finding lasting recovery in all aspects of life.