Substance abuse and chemical dependency continue to be serious issues that plague the landscape of American culture. In many cases, those suffering don’t get the help they need early enough because those around them don’t recognize the symptoms. In cases where symptoms are recognized and patients referred to help, the chances of full recovery and an addiction-free future rise substantially. If you suspect a friend or family member is suffering from substance abuse, you’ll probably recognize at least some of the following symptoms.
1. Emotional and Social Withdrawal
While most drug addictions usually start through the casual use of drugs in a social environment, someone who becomes chemically dependent normally ends up withdrawing from normal social activities. The addict generally becomes alienated from friends and family, confining himself to his room or even completely disappearing for days at a time. This behavior may come on either gradually or suddenly.
2. Poor Performance at School or Work
Because substance abuse alters the mind and the emotions, poor school and work performance inevitably follows. For example, a student who got straight A’s prior to his chemical dependency may see his grades plunge to failing levels. At work, the usually dependable and trustworthy employee becomes one who does not finish his tasks, is often late, and might even steal from his employer.
3. Unexplained Memory Lapses
As chemical dependency progresses, individuals will be more likely to suffer episodes involving blackouts. The resulting memory lapse is troubling for the addict at first, and he may be willing to talk about it until he figures out what’s causing it. Unexplained lapses in memory should never be discounted. Even if they are not caused by substance abuse, they could be a precursor to serious medical issues.
4. Unexplained Financial Loss
It goes without saying that illegal substances cost a lot of money. The recreational drug user will spend a significant amount of money while the person who is chemically dependent will spend everything he has. If a friend or family member suffers unexplained financial loss, and it can be reasonably assumed there are no other factors that could account for the loss, consider the possibility of chemical dependency.
5. Failed Attempts to Stop Using Known Substances
Substance abusers often find themselves involved with, and dependent on, more than one chemical. Alcohol is a good example. A family member or friend who makes it known of his determination to quit using alcohol, yet repeatedly fails in doing so, is probably addicted to alcohol at the very least. He may also be dependent on other substances he has managed to keep secret.
The symptoms of substance abuse and chemical dependency are sometimes difficult to detect. But more often than not, if friends and family members make the effort to diligently observe, they can recognize at least some of the telltale signs. If you believe someone you know has chemical dependency issues, seek professional help as soon as you can.