Nobody chooses to become a drug addict. Nobody decides to turn into an alcoholic. Addiction is a chronic, progressive brain disease as defined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This does not excuse the choices or behaviors of people who are addicts. It does provide a clear definition of addiction, which may help current addicts and the people who are affected by individuals suffering from this disease, understand it.
Knowing the definition may also assist families, friends, and anyone, whose life is altered by the results of someone’s excessive use of any drug, determine when a person has actually developed an addiction that requires drug treatment in order to stop. It is worth noting that alcohol is a drug and the word “drug” in this blog includes illegal narcotics, as well as legal medications prescribed by a Doctor, such as opioid painkillers, which have a high potential for abuse.
It can be incredibly difficult for family or friends to know when somebody you love needs to seek drug treatment in order to quit abusing substances. You should consider that the addict in your life must not only stop putting the addictive drug in their body, they must learn how to live without it. Getting clean and sober is only the beginning. Maintaining sobriety or staying clean requires a daily commitment and rigorous work in order for the recovering addict to embrace a healthy lifestyle and freedom from their previous pre-occupation with addiction.
There is not one specific way to identify when somebody must seriously consider seeking professional help, as every individual is somewhat different. However, addicts are decidedly the same whether they are 16 or 61, rich or poor, male or female. They exhibit similar behaviors, make synonymous changes, and expose some unmistakable clues that indicate they are spiraling out of control and need drug treatment to stop.
Here are 20 distinguishing characteristics that usually signify that an addict needs professional help:
- They lose interest in activities that they used to love.
- They lack motivation to participate in anything that does not include drugs.
- They are late for work or school a lot or call off “sick” frequently.
- They get caught in lies and tell more lies instead of coming clean.
- They get arrested or in trouble legally due to their drug abuse.
- They abandon old friends and replace them with new people, who share a common interest in getting high.
- They stop reaching out to you or noticeably decrease established communications without any valid reason.
- They change their daily routine or seem to have no regular routine.
- They forget holiday/special dinners or do not show up for planned family events.
- They choose to spend time alone or isolate even when they are in a group setting.
- They disengage or quit participating in team sports or group activities that require them to be sober.
- They disappear for hours, sometimes days at a time with no explanation.
- They stop taking care of their personal appearance.
- They ask to borrow money frequently.
- They are always broke and refuse to tell you what they spent their money on.
- They steal money or other valuables from you or other people.
- They tend to have unexplainable/unpredictable mood swings.
- They become defensive when you ask questions about almost anything.
- They wreck their car, lose their job, or quit school and lie about what happened.
- They look a lot different to you – sloppy, dirty, too skinny, too fat, tired etc. – changed.
This list is not all-inclusive and some items mentioned may prove to be symptoms of other problems, like depression or even a physical illness. However, if you are concerned about someone you love abusing drugs and want to know more about drug treatment options, please contact us. We are here to help you help them.