Ten Signs a Loved One Has an Addiction

Suspecting an addiction

Addiction can be a scary word and a difficult thing for a family to wrap their heads around. No one wants to become an addict, yet it is still something that happens to so many people. Having a child develop an addiction is one of the worst fears for many parents. Understandably so considering the numerous negative side effects that can develop from this condition.

Because addiction is so destructive to the person using drugs and to the people around them, it is a less than ideal situation. While they are not always obvious, there are certain signs and behaviors that can indicate an addiction is occurring. Often, a person will be able to maintain their addiction without letting other people on to the fact that they have a problem. However, the longer an addiction continues, the more it will begin to destroy a person’s life.

Below are common signs and symptoms of addiction to look out for.

1. Drastic changes in personality

Drugs and alcohol can severely change the way a person acts and behaves. If your loved one doesn‘t seem like themselves lately and there is no apparent reason, it would be a good idea to look further into what may be going on. While there are plenty of reasons someone may be acting differently, one thing is for sure, drugs and alcohol can turn someone you love into someone you can hardly recognize.

2. Lying about drug or alcohol use

If someone is lying about how much alcohol they consume or saying they don’t use drugs when it is very apparent that they do, then there is a chance there may be a problem. If they didn’t have a problem with drugs or alcohol, they wouldn’t feel the need to lie about it.

3. Problems with work or school

The longer a person abuses drugs or alcohol, the more likely it will be that they developed problems at school or work. It is hard to maintain good grades or an acceptable work performance when constantly riding the rollercoaster of addiction. If your loved one is having significant problems in either of these areas of their life, it would be a good idea to look into things further and find out what is going on.

Girl got fired

4. Continually asking for money

Addiction often causes people to spend all or most of their money on drugs or alcohol. If your loved one is continually asking you for money or pulling cash out of the ATM and not telling you what it is going towards, there is a good chance there may be a substance abuse problem developing. If you ask them about where the money is going, and they get defensive, that is another red flag.

5. Extreme changes in weight or appearance

Certain drugs can cause drastic weight changes in people. If your loved one has lost a lot of weight for no apparent reason, there is a chance it may be due to drug use. Scabs and scratch marks are also signs of meth use.

6. Spending time with people who use drugs

If your loved one is spending a lot of time with people who are using drugs, the chances are pretty high that they are using drugs themselves. If their friends are using or appear to be using, then it will likely only be a matter of time before your loved one starts using as well. It is hard to hang out with people who are actively using drugs without ending up using drugs yourself.

Family visiting inmate

7. Legal problems related to substance abuse

Driving under the influence, possession of a controlled substance, and theft charges are all signs that there may be an underlying addiction. The longer a person continues to use or abuse drugs and alcohol, the more likely they will be to find themselves in legal trouble. If your loved one is experiencing legal problems due to their drug use, yet they continue to use them, chances are they have an addiction. One of the most glaring red flags of addiction is continuing to use despite experiencing negative consequences. If this occurs with your loved one, it may be time to start looking into treatment options.

8. Failing to fulfill obligations

It isn’t easy to fulfill responsibilities when dealing with an addiction. One of the negative aspects of addiction is that its maintenance can become a full-time job in and of itself. Because an addiction becomes so time-consuming, it becomes challenging to fulfill other obligations and responsibilities. If your loved one is continually failing to do the things they need to do, it would be wise to investigate things to see if addiction may be one of the causes.

9. Loss of interest in family or hobbies

People who are struggling with addiction will often stop doing things they once found enjoyable. They will also begin to alienate themselves from their families and will often avoid family functions altogether. One of the challenging aspects of addiction is that it often becomes so consuming there is little time for anything else.

10. Stealing

If your loved one is stealing money or valuable possessions from you or anyone else, there is a serious problem going on. Addiction causes many people to become desperate, and stealing is often done as a way to get money for drugs. If someone has gotten to the point that they feel the need to steal in order to maintain their addiction, they are truly in need of help.

While all of these issues are often red flags of an addiction, it is essential to note that on their own, they may not necessarily mean that your loved one has a habit. The more of these symptoms that a loved one displays, the more likely it will be that they have an addiction. On the other hand, your loved one may still be in the early stages of their addiction and not have as many symptoms, but that does not mean that it is not still a serious issue.

Many times a person with an addiction will deny that they have a problem. If this is the case, it would be wise to continue monitoring the situation if you still feel there may be a problem. If your loved one continues to display several signs of addiction, then it would not be an unreasonable thing to ask them to take a drug test. If they have nothing to hide, they will usually comply, but if someone flies off the handle at the thought, then chances are they have been using drugs and don’t want you to find out about it.

Chances are if you already suspect that your loved one has an addiction or substance abuse problem, then the odds are that they probably do. It is always good to listen to your instincts when it comes to these sorts of things. If you have a sneaking suspicion that something is going on, it is better to try and talk about it and be wrong than not to say anything and be right. The best time to deal with an addiction is always sooner rather than later.

Reviewed by Matt Hawk, BS, CADC-II, ICADC



After overcoming her own addiction in 2012 Julie went on to become certified as an addiction counselor in order to help others achieve a life of recovery. She worked in the addiction field for 8 years and now uses both her personal and professional experiences with addiction as an influence for her writing.