Signs of Abuse: How to Tell if a Loved One is on Drugs
Drug and alcohol abuse impact millions of people across the United States every year. While some forms of abuse are obvious, many addicts are skilled at hiding the signs of their addiction. The following guide provides simple tips and tricks for determining if a loved one is abusing alcohol or drugs.
Signs of Alcohol Abuse
According to a study by the Family Research Council, approximately 11.2 million people in the United States suffer from alcoholism. Since alcohol isn’t considered taboo in most parts of the United States, there are many communities that have a strong drinking culture. While the majority of Americans do enjoy alcohol in moderation, some people are genetically predisposed to alcoholism.
The signs of alcoholism can be subtle, but they can also be very noticeable in some situations. Alcohol consumption can cause bloodshot eyes, rancid breath, poor coordination, a lack of motivation, anger, depression, anxiety, and a variety of other health concerns. Unfortunately, many alcoholics are aware of how their drinking is perceived by others, and they will often hide their drinking from friends, family members, and other loved ones.
Alcoholics use a variety of tricks to disguise their level of alcohol consumption from others. This can include hiding bottles, excessive use of mouthwash, and paying for alcohol with cash instead of a credit card. By paying for alcohol with cash, an alcoholic can avoid any bank statements that show they made a visit to the liquor store. In addition, alcoholics will often rotate through several different liquor stores. By rotating through stores, alcoholics can disguise the amount of alcohol they are truly buying on a daily basis.
Alcoholics will often experience severe withdrawal symptoms if they try to quit drinking. Delirium tremens is a condition characterized by insomnia, muscle tremors, severe agitation, and flu-like symptoms. In some cases, alcohol withdrawal can even lead to death.
For severe alcoholics, sleeping at night may be the longest period of the day when they aren’t drinking. For those who have a dependency on alcohol, sleeping for seven or eight hours can actually cause withdrawal symptoms by the morning. Because of this, some alcoholics experience severe anxiety and muscle tremors when they first wake up. Until they get their first drink, these symptoms will continue.
When looking for signs of alcoholism in a loved one, it’s a good idea to look for empty alcohol containers in the trash. Most alcoholics know that leaving alcohol containers inside a household trash bin may reveal their addiction. Because of this, they’ll often place empty alcohol bottles in the trash, then immediately take the bag to an outside bin or curbside trash can. Make sure to check outside trash cans for any empty alcohol bottles.
It’s also important to check non-alcoholic drinks for signs of alcohol. Some alcoholics will put vodka or other clear liquors in water bottles or other sports drink bottles to hide their addiction.
Finally, check for unusual ATM withdrawals on a bank statement. An alcoholic will often withdraw money from an ATM before going to a liquor store. If you see lots of small withdrawals from ATM machines, this can also be a sign of alcoholism.
Signs of Drug Abuse
Drug abuse can have a variety of signs. Since there are many different types of drugs, it’s difficult to list all the potential side effects of drug abuse. For example, the side effects of methamphetamine abuse will be substantially different from that of heroin abuse. As a rule of thumb, there are a variety of signs that are common to many types of drug abuse.
Drug addicts who are completely functional may not show any visible signs of drug abuse. However, addicts can rarely keep their drug usage in moderation. Over time, addicts will often use increasing amounts of a drug to achieve the same level of effects. For example, an individual just starting out with heroin may use a single stamp bag with as little as 20 mg of heroin, while a seasoned opiate addict may use up to 500 mg of heroin in a single needle.
Many drug addicts who have let their addiction take over their lives have visible signs of self-neglect. This can include poor hygiene, unshaved facial hair, bad breath, dirty clothing, and an unclean living environment. For heroin addicts, clothing may show signs of burn marks where the user passed out while using a cigarette lighter.
Addicts may also steal from loved ones or family members to fund their addiction. However, they will often steal in subtle ways that are hard to detect. Small items around a house will often disappear. Change jars will suddenly become empty. A few dollars will be missing from a wallet. An old smartphone will suddenly disappear. When you look at all these missing items in aggregate, you’ll be surprised at how much they’re worth.
It’s important to remember that addicts aren’t proud of their behavior. In many cases, addicts hate the things they do to satiate their addiction. Being addicted to heroin or alcohol isn’t a fun experience. It’s a continual, ongoing pressure to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction is a disease, just like diabetes or cancer. While it’s important to make sure that addicts receive the treatment they need, it’s essential to remember that the individual you see in the grip of addiction isn’t the person you love. Addiction can make an individual do things they would never do in their normal life. By getting treatment, addicts have the opportunity to repair relationships that have been damaged by their actions.