Does your loved one have a Substance Use Disorder?

When a loved one begins acting in unhealthy ways that are out of character, you may consider whether they are suffering from an addiction (meaning they are dependent) or abuse (meaning they not dependent but use is creating problems) disorder. Here are some warning signs you may notice to help you in deciding when to be concerned:

Physical Signs

  • Appetite or weight, either increase or decrease
  • Grooming and appearance becomes sloppy and disheveled
  • Periods with lots and lots of energy followed by drops into low energy, or just a general change in energy
  • A need for more or less sleep
  • Unusual sensitivity to sounds, noise, textures, etc.
  • Slurring words, slower speech or more rapid and pressured speech
  • Dilated or constricted pupils
  • Red eyes
  • Smelling of alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana

Behavioral Signs

  • New use of tobacco
  • Change to a new group of friends or isolating from old friends
  • Lying or being secretive
  • Isolation and not taking part in usual activities
  • Increased irritability
  • Apathy, loss of motivation or interest in previous pleasurable activities
  • Defensiveness when confronted about their behavior
  • Becoming more talkative or hyperactive
  • Unexplained lack of money or need for more money than usual
  • Not living up to responsibilities

Many of these symptoms could also be a sign of other mental health disorders. If you suspect a loved on is having a problem, you could check with a medical professional, a behavioral health professional, or if it is your child, their school counselor for assistance and guidance. Professionals use various assessment tools and questions to make an accurate diagnosis and determine the proper level of treatment. There is hope and there are many forms of treatment, based on the needs of your loved one and the severity of the situation.