Recognize the Signs of Substance Abuse/Addiction

Substance abuse or addiction often triggers recognizable changes. Look for these signs that someone you love may be struggling.

Note: these signs can be caused by many different factors. The presence of one sign does not mean your loved is abusing or addicted to substances. Move forward with care.

Irregular Eating Habits

Alcohol and drugs often suppress or heighten hunger. If your loved one is skipping usual meals or eating large amounts (often junk food) at unusual times, something is probably wrong.


Some drugs heighten paranoia or anxiety, so extra jumpiness or panic can be a sign of substance abuse. Anxiety can also drive people to seek substances for calming; if your loved one shows signs of intense nervousness or panic, take extra steps to understand how they’re feeling and encourage them to seek professional help.

Sleep Problems

Most substances create irregularity in sleep patterns. Your loved one may experience some type of insomnia or struggle to wake up in the morning. Unusually frequent naps or sleeping at an odd time can also be the effect of substance abuse.

Weight Loss

Due to suppressed appetite and irregular eating habits, your loved one will probably lose weight while abusing substances. People lose weight for healthy reasons, certainly, so look for unusually fast weight loss or loss to an unhealthy level.

Financial Difficulties

All substance addictions are expensive to maintain. If your loved one is asking for money, selling or pawning items, or just can’t account for his/her spending, that money might be going to substance abuse.

Attitude/Personality Changes

Mood swings or unusual moods are common during substance abuse. If your loved one is significantly more angry, depressed, passive, or silly than usual, those emotions may be caused by substance abuse. Not all changes are caused by addiction, of course, but dramatic or long-term personality changes are not normal.

Cold or Flu-Like Symptoms

Sniffling, red eyes, coughing, achiness, and vomiting can all be signs of substance abuse. If your loved one exhibits these symptoms for an unusually long time, in strange combinations of symptoms (like coughing and vomiting, maybe), or only periodically (unlike a typical 2-7 day virus), he/she may be struggling with substance abuse.

Next Steps

If you believe your loved is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we would love to help you. Oaks isn’t the right option for everyone, but we’ll do anything we can to help get you and your family free from the pain of addiction.

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