Substance Abuse? The Signs That Someone Is an Addict

Substance abuse is nothing to take lightly, and if you’ve ever had an addict in your life, you know just how challenging it can be. The struggles of sobriety are met with the demands of everyday life, and overcoming temptation can be a daunting task. Although some argue in favor of a few booze-drinking health benefits, most people know these benefits can quickly diminish when someone overdoes it. While there are certain precursors that may put someone at risk for addiction, such as family history or social environment, it can affect anyone.

According to the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence, Inc., here are seven signs you should look out for that show someone is an addict.

1. Loss of control

man looking sad

Lack of interest and loss of control may be signs someone is an addict. | iStock.com

Going out and enjoying a few cocktails is one thing, but drinking more than a person intended to, for longer than he or she intended to, is a red flag. If someone is partying so hard with drugs or alcohol that becoming belligerent is common practice, there’s a problem.

2. Lack of interest or decline in performance

Sad teenage girl looking out the window

If someone’s performance at work or school is suddenly lacking, this is a sign of possible addiction. | iStock.com/max-kegfire

If a person is neglecting his or her usual passions, hobbies, or responsibilities, alcohol or drug addiction may be the culprit. A sudden disinterest in spending time with family and friends, exercising, or pursuing individual or group activities could all be telltale signs of an addict. Some people also experience a drop in work performance.

3. Anger when confronted by loved ones

sad man sits on the end of the bed while his partner looks stern

It’s common for addicts to lash out. | iStock.com

Often, people lash out at those they’re close to during times of difficulty. In particular, if someone confronts an addict about his or her problem, they may respond with aggression.

4. Risk-taking and continued use despite negative consequences

Whiskey with car keys and handcuffs

Drinking and driving will result in negative consequences. | iStock.com

If a person is truly an addict, he or she will have total disregard for any serious consequences their continued drug or alcohol use may have. Additionally, risky behavior can also become part of an addict’s lifestyle: Someone who prostitutes in exchange for drugs or a person who gets behind the wheel of a car even though they’re intoxicated are a few examples of this.

5. Secrecy

adult couple has privacy problems

If you notice someone in your life acting suspiciously, they may be hiding an addiction. | iStock.com/nicoletaionescu

Bottles hidden in bizarre places around the house can also serve as a warning. Addicts may try to conceal the problem, especially from those they suspect will be the most disappointed or judgmental. Additionally, a person may lie to cover up unexplained injuries or changes in appearance when he or she feels ashamed.

6. Tolerance

man lost in depression

Withdrawal is a long, painful process. | iStock.com

While frat boys getting wasted tends to be a sign of substance abuse, so can tolerance. Over time, a person’s body will adapt to a substance so that its effects become less and less noticeable. Eventually, an addict will need the substance in greater amounts if he or she is looking to achieve the same reaction.

7. Withdrawal

Patient talking to doctor

Helping your loved ones through the withdrawal process can be very helpful. | Psphotograph

Much like Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of a heroin addict in The Basketball Diaries, going through withdrawal is a dramatic experience. When the effects of drugs or alcohol wear off, an addict will experience symptoms, including anxiety, shakiness, sweating, nausea, insomnia, and depression. If you notice someone in your life exhibiting these symptoms, know it can be a rough road. According to the NCADD, educating yourself and offering your support are the first steps.

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