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According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 7.4 million Americans suffered from drug addiction in 2016. Among those surveyed, the most abused substances were marijuana, opioids, prescription pain relievers, and heroin respectively.

Addiction is defined as the physical or psychological need to continue using a substance, despite its harmful or dangerous effects. Recurrent drug use can change the way your brain communicates, overstimulating the reward center of the brain and creating a false sense of happiness or pleasure.

If you suspect a loved one could be addicted to drugs, there are some warning signs to look out for. If they exhibit some or all the following signs and symptoms, it’s worth having a conversation and getting to the root of the problem as soon as possible. However, it’s important to note that these signs do not appear in every substance abuse or drug addiction.

Drug Addiction Warning Signs

Drug addiction affects the body both physically and mentally and can trigger negative behavioral changes. These behavioral changes are normally a combination of symptoms, but if you know what to look for, you can typically pick up on them right away.  Here are some of the most common behavioral and physical changes to look for:

  • A tendency to withdraw or be isolated from others
  • Depression, anxiousness or lethargy
  • Changes in sleeping patterns, such as being up during the night and sleeping during day
  • Changes in eating habits, such as a loss of appetite or an increase in appetite
  • Changes in weight, such as excessive weight loss
  • A decline in personal grooming
  • Financial struggles due to spending money on drugs rather than bills or other necessities

“These sudden changes in a person’s behavior can also include missing school, work, or not following through on social obligations,” primary therapist at Beachside Rehab, Tim Price says. “Other common behaviors include losing interest in hobbies, activities, or sports they previously enjoyed.” While these behavioral signs of drug abuse are some of the initial warnings to look for, behaviors can become more volatile as the drug addiction worsens.

infographic explaining addiction warning signs of drug abuse

What To Do if You Suspect a Loved One is Abusing Drugs

Open communication is key when approaching a loved one you suspect is abusing drugs. Price explains, “How you communicate with them depends on their personality, sometimes they will listen and sometimes they won’t. The best case scenario is that they will be open to treatment because they understand they have a problem.”

If you have a support group of friends and family, an intervention may be the best approach. Some interventions can be productive if planned correctly. “Whoever confronts them, make sure it’s somebody they trust and respect and has a degree of authority,” Price says. “The main goal is that you must make the loved one understand that you love them and care for their well-being.”

If the intervention approach fails, some people need to be put into treatment rather than electively going. Spouses or concerned parents often use ultimatums to get their loved ones into treatment. If your loved one is refusing to get help, this may be a necessary option for convincing them to seek treatment.

What Not To Do:

If you suspect a loved one is battling drug addiction, it’s important not to ignore the problem. By ignoring the warning signs, you increase the likelihood of them endangering themselves or others. Don’t expect that the problem will go away on its own. Addiction is a disorder and most often cannot be overcome without professional therapy and treatment.

Oftentimes, your loved one may know they have a problem and know what they’re doing is destructive to their life. For this reason, it’s important to not make your loved one feel attacked. This may cause them to become defensive and isolate themselves even further. Showing support and a willingness to help are key.

What Treatment Options Work Best?

While individual treatment plans are unique, generally a rehab program is the most effective treatment option. Price says, “The best option is for someone to be in a rehab facility for a minimum of 30 days. By removing them from their using environment, it’s a lot easier to treat them and keep them under supervision.”

At Beachside Rehab, each patient receives a treatment program designed specifically for their needs and medical requirements. All patients are assigned an individual therapy plan and a long-term plan that combines group therapy sessions, family counseling, education, drug addiction therapy, EDMR therapy, and relapse prevention. Patients also participate in therapeutic recreational activities designed to remind them that life can be lived to the fullest without turning to drugs.

At Beachside Rehab, we treat addiction as a chronic disease and can provide treatments and therapies to those in need. If you or a loved one are seeking help for alcohol or drug addiction, please call us today at  888-979-7724.