In 2021, there were 61.2 million people in the United States above the age of 12 that had substance use disorders. While not all of these people are addicted to dangerous substances, it never hurts to have an idea of what signs to look out for.
While most people think that substance abuse is more common in larger cities and low-income communities, it can exist anywhere.
If you are concerned that a loved one may be guilty of substance abuse, you should learn about the signs of substance abuse. Find out more about the clues you’ll see before addiction ruins your relationship.
Table of Contents
1. Changes In Appearance And Behavior
Changes in appearance and behavior can be hidden signs of substance abuse. Substance abusers may neglect their usual hygiene and grooming routines, leading to an unkempt appearance. They may become more socially isolated and secretive, spending more time alone and avoiding people who used to be close to them.
They may be more irritable and tend towards destructive behavior. It’s important to look through this lens in order to pick up on potential signs of substance abuse before they become a larger issue.
2. Financial Struggles Are Signs Of Substance Abuse
Financial struggles can be tell-tale signs of addiction. Substance abusers may find themselves going through their incomes more quickly than usual. They may begin to borrow money from friends and family and find themselves unable to pay bills on time due to a lack of funds. They may also be more likely to use credit cards, leading to mounting debt.
This can lead to being overdrawn due to inconsistent payments. Other financial signs of addiction include:
- Change in spending habits
- Collection calls
- Neglected savings
- Retirement accounts
Paying close attention to a person’s financial behaviors can help spot signs of substance abuse. Learn more about recovery services
3. Isolation And Withdrawal
People who are struggling with substance abuse may begin to cut off contact with friends and family. They hide their substance abuse and hide the shame of their addiction. People may withdraw from their social circles because they believe they are unworthy or no longer interested in activities they previously enjoyed.
Other signs of withdrawal include sleeping more than usual, depression, and a general lack of interest in activities. Recognizing these warning signs for what they are and intervening when possible can significantly reduce the risks associated with substance abuse.
4. Mood Swings
A person’s mood will often change abruptly and without warning. An individual’s behavior may become more aggressive or hostile, leading to arguments and even violence. Emotions may become exaggerated, such as extreme happiness or sadness.
Family members should be aware of the hidden signs of substance abuse related to mood swings. These can include:
- Sleeping disturbances
- Changes in eating habits
- Lack of interest in activities
- Social withdrawal
- Extreme changes in reaction to situations
Displaying any or all of these signs should be taken seriously and checked out to make sure there is not a deeper issue at hand.
Recognizing the Subtle Symptoms of Substance Abuse
Hidden signs of substance abuse can be difficult to recognize, especially in people we love and care about. If you’re concerned someone you know may be struggling with substance abuse, don’t wait to reach out for help. It may just save their life.
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Wayne Probert is a senior reporter at Zobuz, covering state and national politics, and he is a grantee with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Before joining Zobuz, he worked as a freelance journalist in Kentucky, having been published by dozens of outlets including NPR, the Center for Media.