Substance abuse is often seen as a glaring and life-altering condition. Substance abusers are pictured as alcoholics who drink all day and opiate addicts who are never without a needle. And indeed, substance abuse does look like this in a lot of cases. But sometimes the signs are more subtle. On its own, one of the following signs may not be indicative of a substance abuse disorder, but the more of the following signs a loved one of yours is displaying, the greater the chance that substance abuse is at the heart of it.
Does your loved one seem to have less money than they should considering their employment situation? Maybe they are often complaining about being behind on bills, or maybe they are having to turn down invitations because they don't have any money to spend on entertainment. Many addictions are very costly, and even alcohol addiction can cost a few hundred dollars a week.
If a loved one suddenly starts to seem like they don't want to share anything with you or tell you what is going on, it could be because of a substance abuse disorder. They may leave and not tell you where they're going. (In this case, they may be going to purchase the substance they're using.) They may not want to tell you who they are spending time with because they're spending time with friends who also use.
Strange Sleep Patterns
Some substances cause users to sleep for hours on end. Others keep the user up for hours. If your loved one's sleep habits have changed and you're not sure why, it could be because of substance abuse.
A lack of hygiene, weight loss, and hair loss are all common side effects of various substances that are often abused. In general, to onlookers, it often just looks like a person has let themselves go. Loved ones often assume this is just due to depression or being busy, and sometimes that is the case, but substance abuse is also a possibility to look into.
Maybe your loved one complains about headaches a lot. Or perhaps they have had frequent bouts of vomiting or digestive distress. Of course your loved one could just be sick, but in combination with the other subtle signs above, this could be an indicator of substance abuse.
If you think your loved one may have a substance abuse disorder, it is best to say something now rather than waiting for the problem to get worse. The sooner they seek treatment, the better.