You may have a gut feeling that someone close to you has become dependent on drugs or alcohol due to changes in their behavior, personality or demeanor. Sometimes it can become difficult to describe exactly how a person has changed, but you know that their substance use has turned them into a different person. There are also instances where an individual has changed, but friends, family and loved ones have no explanation for these changes, because they’re unaware of the person’s addiction.
There are some common behavioral indicators of addiction that you can look out for if you’re concerned that a person close to you has become substance dependent.
1. Repeated Attempts to Quit
An individual who repeatedly and unsuccessfully attempts to quit drinking or using drugs may be struggling with addiction. By announcing their desire to quit to family and friends, they’re signaling that they’re aware of their problem and likely want to seem like they are in control of their substance use. However, if they seem to be in a constant cycle of quitting and using, they may be addicted.
An individual using drugs or alcohol after expressing feelings of stress, depression or anxiety can be an indicator of addiction. Using mood-altering substances to deal with life’s difficulties may mean that a person struggles to cope with their emotions, making them a great candidate for substance use treatment, where they can learn healthy, alternative coping methods.
3. Using, But Not Enjoying, Substances
If a person has indicated that they don’t enjoy using their substance of choice anymore, but continues to do so anyway, it’s likely that they’re struggling to quit or are only using to feed the biological need that powers their addiction. Drugs and alcohol can rewire the brain, requiring individuals to continue to use substances even once they lose their desire to or have experienced negative consequences because of their use.
4. Lacking Self-Control
Someone struggling with addiction will repeatedly show that they’re unable to limit their use to a reasonable level. They may also drink or use drugs in inappropriate situations, regardless of the potential for punishment.
5. Making Excuses
A person addicted to drugs or alcohol is going to prioritize satisfying their addiction over everything else. They may miss out on family events and important work or school obligations. If an individual close to you who previously used drugs or alcohol starts making excuses to always be absent or alone, it’s possible that they’re taking advantage of that time away from everyone else to use.