Are they addicted?

Addict’s Family


8- Are they Addicted?


Being able to recognize the disease of addiction in a person can be difficult. Most family members are unfamiliar with its telltale signs. On top of that, it is easier to deny a loved one has become addicted, so potential clues are dismissed or disregarded. But getting yourselves familiar with the signs and symptoms of drug use enables you to recognize whether your loved one has become addicted. This in turn will put you in a position to better cope with and help them.


1. Warning Signs

2. Symptoms of addiction

3. Drug paraphernalia


Please note — spotting these signs and symptoms in your loved one does not necessarily mean they are addicted to drugs. These warning signs are simply general indications common amongst those suffering from the disease of addiction.


1- Warning Signs

Are they addicted? - Addiction warning signs


1. Physical

  • Eyes that are bloodshot or pupils that are smaller or larger than normal.
  • Frequent nosebleeds, which can be caused by drugs like Methedrine and cocaine that are inhaled through the nose.
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns.  
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain.
  • Seizures, without a history of epilepsy.
  • Deterioration in personal grooming or physical appearance.
  • Injuries and accidents occurring regularly, and for which the family member is unwilling or unable to offer an explanation.
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing.
  • Shakes, tremors, incoherent or slurred speech, impaired or unstable coordination.


2. Behavioral

  • Drop in attendance and performance at work or school.
  • Falling off of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies, sports, favourite hangouts, or exercise.
  • Complaints to the home from co-workers, supervisors, teachers, or classmates.
  • More and unexplained requests for money, along with general signs that the person in question is experiencing financial problems.
  • Noticing that money or valuables from the home go missing.
  • The person in question becomes uncommunicative and withdrawn, while acting in ways suggesting they have something to hide.
  • Isolating – or dropping former friends and taking up with new ones who seem less suitable.
  • Surprising signs of irritability and impatience, combined with a noted increase in the incidence of fights and arguments in the person’s life.


3. Psychological

  • Unexplained change in personality or attitude.
  • Sudden mood changes, including angry outbursts or laughing at nothing.
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity or agitation.
  • Lack of motivation combined with an inability to focus; appears lethargic or “spaced out.”
  • Appears fearful, withdrawn, anxious, or paranoid, with no apparent reason.


2- Symptoms of addiction

Most people who have developed the disease of addiction show physical symptoms. These can be:

Symptoms of addiction


1. Tolerance

The longer a person uses drugs, the more drugs they need to achieve the same effect. This is known as building tolerance. Maybe your loved one has dabbled in drugs without any obvious ill effect, but you lately notice that their use has increased. The reason may be that their tolerance has grown, which is a sign of addiction.


2. Withdrawal

Those who have become addicted to drugs experience withdrawal symptoms when the substance wears off. The signs of withdrawal include:  anxiety or jumpiness; shakiness or trembling; sweating, nausea and vomiting, insomnia, depression, irritability, fatigue or loss of appetite and headaches. An addict may turn to his drug of choice to allay these symptoms. If a family member exhibits these symptoms one minute, and then the next minute shows signs of intoxication, that is a strong indication they are using drugs in response to withdrawal. In severe cases, withdrawal from drugs can be life threatening and involve hallucinations, confusion, seizures, fever, and agitation. These symptoms can be dangerous and should be managed by a physician specifically trained and experienced in dealing with addiction.


3. Loss of control

A person in the family who has made promises to quit or cut down on their drug use but has been unable to keep these promises may be in trouble with drugs. A clear indication of addiction is when a person is doing more drugs than they resolve to themselves – or others – that they will do.


4. Inability to stop despite desire

They have a genuine desire to cut down or stop their drug use, but all such efforts have been unsuccessful. In this classic situation, the drug, not the user, is calling the shots.


5. Neglect of life activities

A major consequence of addiction is that it robs a person of the ability to enjoy life. The addict loses interest in the things that once brought pleasure. It is common for drug users – among them many whom once were active and outgoing – to give up on activities that used to be important to them. Having dinner with friends or riding their bike or going to a museum or playing the piano lose their appeal. As drugs move to centre stage, the person more and more is passing his time using drugs, thinking about them, or recovering from them.  There is little energy left for anything else.


6. Continued use despite harm

Problems do not deter the addict from using. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence that his drug use is interfering with his ability to do his job, is damaging his marriage, hurting his health, driving away friends and family, creating financial problems, the addict forges ahead. The insanity of addiction knows few bounds.



3- Drug paraphernalia

Another potential sign of addiction is the ‘paraphernalia’ – the material the addict uses to take drugs. Such items include:


  • Packets of paper for producing hand-rolled cigarettes
  • Cigarettes that have had the tobacco removed, which is often a sign that tobacco is being combined with cannabis for smoking
  • Rolled up banknotes, which are used to snort cocaine
  • Folded and burnt tin foil; burnt or bent spoons, syringes and needles, which may have been used to take heroin or crack cocaine
  • Tiny bits of clingfilm, which are used to wrap drugs
  • Pipes, plastic bottles or soda cans pierced with holes, which can be used to smoke drugs
  • Butane gas canisters and lighter fuel cans, which can be inhaled
  • Traces of unusual powder or small blocks of unknown substances
  • Small bottles, which may have contained Amyl-nitrate
  • Empty sealable bags, often about 2 inches square


  • To learn about the disease of addiction, its nature and symptoms please refer to: Disease Addiction

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