It is difficult to know if your friend is struggling with an addiction. Thinking of addiction, we often assume someone is leading an out-of-control life. However, individuals often appear as functional, while secretly struggling with addiction. Addiction can manifest in different ways. The Harm Reduction Center has put together an addiction guide for friends and compiled a list of signs to help you determine the likelihood of addiction.
What is Addiction
Firstly, to better understand addiction, you have to understand that it is a disease. It is a chronic brain disorder involving loss of control with substance use, despite adverse consequences.
Addicts are unable to stop using, even though problems arise in their life. It is difficult to understand when someone has an addiction. Because it varies from person to person, and there are diverse symptoms.
Educating yourself on the signs of addiction is vital, and catching addiction early is key. Research and learn all you can about the potential symptoms and side effects of each substance. Read more information regarding signs of addiction at Partnership to End Addiction.
How to Know if Your Friend has an Addiction
Physical Signs to Look for Include:
- Sleep and eating habit changes
- Changes in speech and coordination
- Rapid changes in weight
- Changes in personal care, clothing, not bathing, breath
- Eyes appearing dilated
- Weigh changes
Some tell-tale signs of addiction are irritability, sweating, and nausea. Mood swings, cravings, lethargy, and insomnia are also indicators.
Secondly, determine whether or not their behavior is impacting their everyday life and activities. Daily drinking and out-of-character erratic behavior are typical signs to be aware of.
Behavioral and Social/Emotional Signs Include:
- Personality changes
- Lying, stealing, deceptive behaviors
- Theft, suspicious behavior, keeping things hidden
- Arguing, fighting, legal issues
- Getting into trouble
- Financial issues trouble
- Hyperactivity or irritability for no apparent reasons
- Mood swings, anxiety, panic, depression
Practical Ways to Help
Next, after determining a friend has an addiction, is knowing how and when to help. Encourage a friend to get sober if they have a substance abuse problem. If they choose to try sobriety, be supportive without overstepping personal boundaries. Often, friends experience disappointment, as the addiction takes priority over the relationship.
Suggest a rehabilitation program. To offer more support, help your friend research programs, contact doctors together, and help find a specialist. Offer to attend their first appointment with the doctor, detox facility, or rehab center. Offer to drive them to therapy sessions and other appointments to not only take some stress off them but to ensure they make it to every appointment.
Ask what they need but do not provide anything that will enable further substance use. If your friend has an addiction, it’s important to talk to them about it. However, be kind, caring but firm, and fair. Be a soft place to land and open up, although, be aware that there is a line between helping and enabling. Watch for excuse-making and understand recovery is challenging.
How You Can Support Your Friends in Recovery
The idea of supporting a friend in recovery is difficult. Further, knowing how to approach your friend is essential. The best way to support your friend while recovering is to treat them respectfully. Support your friend through empathy and understanding.
If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, please reach out for help. To break free from your alcohol addiction, contact the Harm Reduction Center in South Florida. We offer extensive treatment options, from Integrated Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) to Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP).