How to Know If My Loved One is Addicted

 In Resources for Loved Ones

Substance abuse and addiction affect millions of Americans including adolescents, teenagers, and young adults. Whether it is drugs or alcohol or both, long-term substance use and abuse can have lifelong effects and a looming risk of relapse even after professional treatment.

With this in mind, it may be heartbreaking to find out that your loved one is struggling with addiction. Despite various telltale signs of addiction, it is not always easy to know for sure that your loved one is addicted. You can ask them, but they’ll probably deny it. Therefore, knowing the signs is the first step toward helping your child or another family member get addiction treatment right away.

What is Addiction?

Addiction, also known as substance use disorder, refers to the frequent and compulsive use of alcohol or illicit drugs such as heroin or cocaine. It also applies to people who are taking prescription drugs, e.g., opioids, stimulants, or depressants, in a manner other than prescribed. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is a chronic disease that makes the individual unable to control drug or alcohol use. This leads to compulsive seeking and use of the addictive substance despite the harmful effects.

How Substance Abuse Affects the Brain

Substance abuse may begin from an experimental use, for example, to feel “high,” relieve stress, improve work or academic performance, or to get accepted into a peer group. However, drugs and alcohol affect the parts of the brain responsible for reward and pleasure. Once the brain receptors become accustomed to the euphoria produced by these substances, they will continue to crave for them. Addiction also alters brain functions. This may cause your loved one to have difficulties making responsible decisions such as quitting or seeking addiction treatment.

Signs of Addiction

Certain physical, psychological, and behavioral signs may indicate that your loved one is addicted. However, a proper diagnosis can be made by a professional trained in diagnosing substance abuse. The following common signs of addiction may vary from person to person depending on the substance being abused and the severity of the addiction:

Physical signs

  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Dilated or contracted pupils
  • Glazed or bloodshot eyes
  • Tiredness or sleepiness
  • Poor hygiene
  • Withdrawal symptoms, e.g., nausea or vomiting
  • Presence of drug use paraphernalia, e.g., needles and syringes

Behavioral changes

  • Mood swings
  • Denying the addiction
  • Hostility or aggression
  • Frequent and intense cravings
  • Risk taking or poor judgment
  • Using prescription drugs belonging to others
  • Preoccupation with getting and using drugs or alcohol
  • Borrowing or stealing money to support the habit
  • Drop in school or work performance
  • Withdrawing from family and friends

How Addiction Treatment Can Help Your Loved One

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addiction treatment is meant to help stop the cycle of compulsive drug seeking and use. The intent is similar for alcoholism treatment. Treatment involves a physical detox followed by psychotherapy to address co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety or depression, that may trigger substance abuse.

Because severe or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms may develop, your loved one should not try to quit at home. Instead, treatment should be done at a professional rehab center. These facilities offer inpatient or outpatient programs in a safe and compassionate setting


Detox is the process of getting the addictive substance out of the body. It can be safely done at a detox clinic or other medical setting where your loved one will be monitored by a physician and mental health professionals. Depending on how severe the addiction is, prescription drugs may be administered to ease the withdrawal symptoms. This helps to improve your loved one’s chances of recovery. The detox timeline may range from 7-14 days but could be longer based on the level of addiction.

Treating Addiction with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a core treatment offered as a part of addiction programs across the US. During therapy, the therapist will help your loved one discover what triggers their substance abuse habits and learn about positive ways to cope with the urges to use drugs or alcohol.

Other therapies such as dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), family therapy, and holistic therapies may also be included in the addiction treatment plan. As part of the relapse prevention plan, your loved one can get involved in the 12-steps to recovery programs and community-based sober groups such as Narcotic Anonymous.

Recovering from Addiction at The Ajna Center in San Diego

The Ajna Center is a professional drug and alcohol treatment facility in San Diego, CA. We offer inpatient and outpatient programs to meet the specific needs of our clients and promote long-term sobriety. Programs include detox, behavioral therapies, relapse prevention, and holistic therapies. Our family therapy sessions bring the family on board to support the addicted individual during and after recovery. Contact us today for more details on our programs.

Recommended Posts
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt
Call Now ButtonCALL US NOW