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Addiction is a chronic mental and medical illness that affects the brain and continues to adversely affect millions of Americans. Substance abuse and addiction not only cause physical harm but also affect the individual’s emotions while often causing behavioral issues. Individuals suffering from addiction cannot control their impulses. Untreated addiction can lead to life-threating consequences.  If you know or suspect that a loved one is facing addiction, it is important to first identify symptoms and consider consulting Addiction Alternatives where a mental health professional can advise you on how to proceed. Remember that addiction is neither your fault nor the fault of your loved one.

Physical Signs of Addiction

Often times, physical symptoms can lead to an initial assumption of an individual suffering from addiction. Substance abuse can lead to as well as aggravate different types of symptoms. When trying to assess whether your spouse or loved one is struggling with addiction, one of the first steps is to look for clear physical signs. If you think that your loved one may be struggling with addiction, the general physical symptoms of addiction to look for are described below.

  • Repetitive speech patterns, red eyes, and dilated pupils. Repetitive or irregular speech patterns are the result of changes in areas of the brain that control that function. Red and dilated pupils are a direct response to the use of substances. These are indicators that can be detected right away.
  • Over-active or underactive. Watching for extreme signs of changes in energy level are also a tell-tale sign of substance abuse. Keep an eye out of random burst of energy or extreme fatigue in your loved one.
  • Weight loss and change in eating habits. Extreme signs of weight loss can also be a sign of substance abuse or addiction. Look for their clothing to fit looser or just not fitting their frame the same way it once did. Often times, they may look pale or undernourished. You may notice your loved one eating more frequently or they may even abstain from food.
  • Body odor and/or other unusual odors. Personal hygiene often tends to fall by the wayside for someone suffering from addiction. This is due to the individuals growing inability to cope with stress and lack of energy levels. The impulsive nature of addiction causes individuals to disregard their once healthy habits of daily living.

Do not solely rely on physical symptoms to determine if your loved one has a problem. It is important to also look for signs of emotional or behavioral signs as they are all linked together. It is never too soon to voice your concerns to your loved one if you suspect they may be suffering from an addiction.

Emotional Signs of Addiction

Emotional or behavioral issues may be harder to determine as addiction produces a number of negative emotions making relationships with family and friends difficult and frustrating. Detailed below are common emotional symptoms of addiction to watch out for.

  • Denial. A person suffering from addiction can fall into two categories of denial. They can either admit the use of substances but minimize the severity. Or they can completely change the topic to avoid the conversation altogether. An individual suffering from addiction may or may not realize the negative effects of their disease but regardless are unable to stop due to a loss of control.
  • Decreased ability to handle stress. Often times, addiction and substance abuse can lead to a loss in of interest in their own lives, the lives of others and even activities they frequently loved or took part in.
  • Increased irritability. Unfortunately, your loved one is likely to become more defensive and argumentative. This behavior often leads to rationalizing and blaming others for their behavior. This includes finding excuses and other explanations for their using behavior, as well as placing the blame on another person or situation for their behavior.

Behavioral Signs of Addiction

Behavioral changes often accompany the physical and emotional changes in a person who is suffering addiction. Behavioral symptoms begin to develop as changes in the brain begin to occur. It is important to remember that your loved one is not a bad person and they are unable to control their decisions and behavior at this point.

The impulsive and compulsive behavior present in the beginning will often lead to more risky behavior. This is due to the fact the addiction actually hijacks your spouse’s control and judgment. Behaviors can range from engaging in criminal behavior, stealing, financial difficulties, as well as driving under the influence. Relationships are often strained between the addict and their families and friends. These relationships are strained through lying, manipulating and other negative behaviors. It may be difficult for your spouse to experience joy and happiness in the same things they used to.

What Can I Do to Help?

Many loved ones have asked us at Addiction Alternatives, “what can I do to help my husband/wife”? Our advice is to make sure you are having open and honest, judgment-free conversations. If they feel attacked they are less likely to be willing to hear your concerns. While it may be difficult to remain calm during this time, it is important to not take out your anger on your spouse. At this point, it is important to remember not to enable their behaviors. This includes lending money to them or lying for them. When the conversation turns to their addiction, finish off with a suggestion to seek professional help.

When To Seek Professional Help

If your loved one is struggling from addiction, they need to seek treatment with the help of health professionals as soon as possible. Anyone can achieve sobriety regardless of how long they have been struggling with this mental disease. Addiction is treatable with the appropriate treatment protocol, which consists of combinations of behavioral therapy, prescribed medications, evaluation and treatment for other underlying conditions, and follow-ups. Tailoring treatment programs to address the distinct needs of each patient, Addiction Alternatives is dedicated to guiding and assisting their patients on their way to recovery. Now is the time to get help, so call today!