Drug and alcohol abuse comes in a variety of forms and no two cases are the same. For many, abuse may be begin with a desire to relax or deal with stress, to fit in with peers, or an attempt to combat another problem such as physical pain, depression or anxiety. However, there are few circumstances in which abuse does not develop into addiction. Becoming aware of the symptoms of drug or alcohol abuse is the first step towards helping the individual regain control of his or her life. If there is any concern that someone you may know may engaged in drug or alcohol abuse you must become aware of three important warning signals; the physical, behavioral, and psychological changes in the individual.
Some of the most obvious warning signs that someone may be abusing drugs or alcohol are the physical changes. The first sign of addiction is often the appearance of the eyes, such as pupil dilation (increased size) or constriction (decreased size), or frequent bloodshot eyes. The individual may also begin to alter routines, with significant increases or decreases in food consumption and sleep. Drug abuse can also lead to a drastic shifts in physical appearance, including weight loss or gain, and diminished personal care and hygiene. The individual may also begin to suffer from slurred speech, tremors of the extremities, and experience difficulties with physical coordination.
A shift in the individual’s behavior is also a major sign that there may be an issue. The individual may have an erratic attendance record at work or school or begin to experience a loss in performance. An addict may also begin to act secretively and begin to engage in suspicious behaviors including significant shifts in routines and an increased need for money with little or no explanation.
Psychologically, an addict may also appear to act out of character, including unusual energy levels (hyperactivity and lethargy) and sudden and severe mood swings. He or she may also develop certain social and interpersonal issues such as paranoia, increased anxiety levels and appearing agitated or distant when engaged in conversation.
If there is any suspicion of addiction and any of these symptoms match the individual’s behavior it is vital that assistance is offered and sought before matters become worse. For many, rehabilitation comes that much easier with the help and support of a loved one.