Watch Out for These 5 Early Signs of Substance Abuse

Worried that someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse? Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to know for sure in the early stages. Users go to great lengths to keep their addiction hidden from others.

Luckily, it’s possible to beat addiction. Vertical Treatment Centers offers rehab services for those struggling with drug or alcohol addiction. The first step for addicts is admitting they have a problem. For many, this is also the hardest step. Keep reading to learn five early signs of substance abuse.

1. Loss of Interest in Everyday Activities

Everyone has passions, hobbies, and activities they enjoy, but users often avoid the things that once brought them joy. Instead, their addiction becomes the number one priority. Users push all other activities to the sidelines.

Why does this drastic change in interests occur? Drugs and alcohol cause chemical reactions in the brain. These substances flood the brain with dopamine, giving the user a sense of euphoria. But this intense feeling is also short-lived. Users constantly seek another “fix” to experience the sensation again, and no other activities can compete.

2. Changes in Physical Appearance

Most people care about their looks and want to put their best foot forward. As substance abuse takes over, personal grooming becomes less important. Users often forget to brush their teeth or wash their hair. Instead, they leave the house looking disheveled or even dirty.

As substance abuse takes over, users often neglect their own personal hygiene without realizing it. These changes usually start small. For example, someone who typically leaves the house perfectly groomed might start wearing wrinkled clothes to work.

3. Keeping to Themselves More Often

Alone time is essential, but too much might indicate substance abuse. Users often isolate themselves from others, including their close friends and family. Rather than hanging out, your loved one might hide in their bedroom, avoid phone calls, or cut conversations short.

Why do users avoid socializing? They often do it to avoid uncomfortable questions about their drug or alcohol use. It’s also common for users to replace their friends with new acquaintances, like fellow addicts or drug dealers.

4.  Sleeping Too Much or Too Little

Is your loved one sleeping more often or not at all? Substance abuse could be the culprit. Some drugs, like marijuana and alcohol, make users feel drowsier than usual. On the contrary, cocaine, methamphetamines, and other “uppers” disrupt normal sleep routines. People who use these drugs sometimes go long stretches without sleep.

Sleep disturbances are a common sign of substance abuse. However, this red flag often goes unnoticed since 50 to 70 million Americans struggle with sleep disorders for various reasons.

5. Sudden and Uncontrollable Mood Swings

Substance abuse reduces a person’s ability to regulate their emotions. As a result, users might exhibit increased irritability, mood swings, or violent outbursts. Drugs and alcohol affect the brain’s chemistry by altering hormone levels. This makes users more prone to emotional instability.

Addiction is a three-cycle process: intoxication, withdrawal, and anticipation. Users feel different emotions during each cycle. For example, users often feel invincible while intoxicated. Once they reach withdrawal, your loved one might go from happy to suddenly angry, distrustful, or confused.

Treatment Is the Answer

Substance abuse is scary, but it affects countless families every year. Recognizing the early signs of abuse will help you get your loved one back on the right track. The sooner a user begins treatment, the sooner they will learn how to enjoy life sober.

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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