There is a huge misconception that people who suffer from an addiction are easy to spot. We have the image of a person who stumbles around with a bottle in hand to define the addiction. But most often, there are other signs, a lot more subtle, that can give you clues when a loved one suffers from an addiction. Those who do abuse illegal substances are very careful to hide themselves, as they are aware their habit is not a good one. If you spot multiple of the following signs in a person, he or she might have a substance abuse problem.
They try to isolate themselves
When someone tries to isolate himself from the world, it's a clear sign of a problem. There are multiple reasons for the need to be alone, but one of them is substance abuse. If a friend who usually loves hanging out and going to parties, suddenly starts to refuse going out, it might be a sign of a problem. On the other hand, many drug addicts change their entourage, starting to spend more time with dealers and other addicts.
Severe appetite changes are another sign of substance abuse. Depending on what substances they use, they might refuse to eat or overeat. Sometimes, the person overeats but doesn't gain any weight, which is definitely a warning sign.
People who abuse illegal substances often experience energy boosts and appear to be able to function perfectly for hours on end, even days. After these periods of high energy, they crash and sleep for hours. In most cases, they sleep during the day, so it's easy to see their sleeping habits change.
They are paranoid and short tempered
Some people have a natural tendency to be paranoid, but if your friend is suddenly nervous and secretive, there might be something going on. In the attempt to hide their addiction, they can become very tensed and exhibit a secretive behavior, especially towards relatives and friends.
Another common sign of a substance abuse is increased irritability. This rather subtle change in personality can be traced back to an addiction and it's usually accompanied by isolation and paranoid behavior. Mood swings can also be linked to drug abuse.
Their appearance is changed
Substance abuse always changes one's appearance: the person loses weight, can develop acne and has injected eyes. Because addicts only care for their addiction, they often neglect themselves. But, if you look closely, you can see the signs of addiction in a lack of personal hygiene, the use of makeup to hide dark circles underneath the eyes and overuse of perfume to hide the smell of alcohol.
The general appearance of an addict usually turns into a shabby version of the regular self.
Strange explanations about sick days
Because addiction leads to a radical switch in sleep patterns and fatigue, you may hear strange explanations about sick days. Addicts are highly creative in finding explanations for themselves and take a lot of sick days, either because they have to hide their appearance, either because they are simply unable to do their job.
Addicts go to extreme lengths to pay for their substances, so when someone suddenly starts to have financial problems without an obvious sign, such as the lost of the job or a credit, they might be taking drugs. Some addicts start to borrow from friends, get loans or get a second job only to support their addiction.