Are you wondering whether someone you care about needs addiction treatment? The road to a substance abuse problem isn’t a straight line. For most people, it’s more like a slippery slope. When the person in need and their families look back at past events, they can see how the addiction developed, but it’s difficult to point to a single moment where they knew they were in trouble.
When questioning whether your loved one needs help, it’s easy to dismiss these thoughts at first. No one wants to immediately conclude that a family member, friend or colleague needs rehab. It makes sense to compare what you think may be occurring against a list of symptoms of drug and alcohol addiction. If the behaviors you are seeing line up with the symptoms, your suspicions may be accurate.
Signs and Symptoms of Drug and Alcohol Addiction
The following list provides some of the most common signs of an addiction problem.
If your loved one is hiding their alcohol or drug use from others or says that they don’t want anyone to “be in their business,” it’s a sign that they are justifying their behavior. They may be feeling embarrassed about either what they are taking or how much they are drinking or using, and don’t want anyone to know.
Your loved one may tell you very elaborate stories about where they have been and what they have been doing. If this is not their usual way of speaking, be aware that they may be lying to you.
Addicts often believe that as long as they have a good story, they are able to convince other people of anything. This is their notion of being in control of a situation. The longer they are addicted, the more elaborate the stories will become.
If you confront an addict about their lies, they are likely to respond with anger. Some people may become violent as they try to tell another lie to get themselves out of the situation. Becoming angry and defensive when you try to discuss the issue can be a sign of addiction.
Your loved one may display mood swings if they are addicted to alcohol or drugs. During a short time, they could appear happy but then their mood could turn angry, sad, or withdrawn. You’ll want to make note of the rapid shift in moods, not necessarily the exact mood states. Someone who is shifting moods often likely needs to seek professional help.
If your loved one reports not being able to remember certain periods of time or events, it’s a sign that their drinking or drug use is heavy enough to cause blackouts. This situation is cause for alarm. It should prompt you to talk to your loved one about seeing a doctor about their health and to seek advice about addiction treatment.
Inability to Slow Down or Stop on their Own
One sign of addiction is when a person makes promises to themselves and others to either slow down their consumption or stop completely and is unable to do so. Someone who is addicted no longer has a choice about whether they will drink or do drugs–the disease is in control of their actions. At that point, the person needs to seek substance abuse treatment.
Next Steps if You Know Your Loved One Needs Addiction Treatment
If you read through the list of signs and symptoms and realize that your loved one needs addiction treatment, your next steps will depend on whether they have asked for help.
If Your Loved One Has Asked for Help
This is an important first step in getting your loved one the help they need. Talk to them to see if they would be willing to see a doctor for an evaluation. Depending on the type of health insurance plan your loved one has, they may need a referral to a doctor specializing in addiction medicine. If they don’t need one, use the “Find a Physician” feature on the American Society of Addiction Medicine website to find a specialist near you.
If Your Loved One Hasn’t Asked for Help
In a situation where your loved one hasn’t approached you and asked for help, you can still look for addiction treatment centers in their area. If you do some research and provide the information, it may encourage them to seek help.
Look online for treatment centers near your city, in your county and state. The addiction treatment center’s website should provide you with information about the type of services it provides (detox, inpatient, outpatient) and the types of insurance it accepts. Most treatment facilities have a toll-free number where you can speak to an intake counselor. These centers are also very familiar with different insurance companies’ offerings and whether a doctor’s referral is required before starting treatment.
You can also ask whether the treatment center has other types of payment plans available (payment arrangements, sliding scale, scholarships), as well as specific questions about the program itself. Your loved one may be more likely to enter treatment when presented with information about a specific program.