If you are concerned that someone you know, perhaps a family member, friend, or colleague, could be addicted to either drugs [of any kind] or alcohol, but you are not 100% sure, it really helps to be aware of the typical signs to look out for. If you spot enough of these you may feel more confident about approaching the person you care about, and offering to help them find advice and support. A great resource where you can find more help and support is Project Unbroken.
Here are some of the most noticeable signs which suggest someone may have a dependency on drugs or alcohol.
The ways they use drugs or alcohol
- They keep taking a [prescribed] drug after the health problem has been resolved.
- They are taking more of a drug than before to get relief.
- They become ill with symptoms like shaking, sweating, feeling unwell, tiredness and lose appetite when they stop taking the drugs.
- They drink alcohol at inappropriate times.
The effect on their daily life
- They continue to take the meds even if it interferes with their daily life, e.g. missing work, breaking the law, falling out with friends.
- A lot of their day is focused on the drug in some way.
- They are losing interest in things they once enjoyed.
- Personal hygiene and general self-care is slipping, so they are washing less often, not cooking balanced meals and so on.
- Their sleeping habits have changed, either they sleep longer than usual or less.
- Their children are showing signs of neglect.
Changes to the way they look
- They are losing or gaining a noticeable amount of weight but don’t appear to eat much.
- They wear clothes which need laundering.
- They don’t have their usual interest in styling their hair (and doing nails or makeup if relevant).
- They have bad breath.
- Their eyes are bloodshot.
Changes in their financial situation
- They borrow money to fund their need to buy drugs or alcohol.
- Personal and household items are being sold for no other reason.
Changes in the way they relate to people
- They are not comfortable talking about this part of their life.
- People around them (teachers, colleagues, friends, parents) complain about their behavior, and how they have changed.
- They seem to be spending a lot of their time with a different set of friends.
- They are unreliable socially, for example being persistently late or not appearing at all.
- They only want to socialize in situations where alcohol is bound to be available.
- They seem to be changing personality, becoming moodier or angrier than they were.
As this is a very long list if you spot one or two things which seem familiar they could well be explained by something else entirely, but if several ring true about someone you know and have concerns about then it could well be that they are showing the first signs of being addicted to alcohol or drugs.