How to Recognize Addiction and Help a Loved One

By  //  July 28, 2023

Substance abuse impacts all levels of society and all regions of the country. No small town is immune, and no gated community is untouched. One of the hardest parts of watching a loved one suffer from addiction is feeling useless to help. 

You may have personally wondered if your habits could indicate addiction. Questions about driving under the influence might plague you. You may worry if you can get life insurance with a DUI. Read on for warning signs to alert you to your substance abuse.

Addiction doesn’t just affect the victim. It impacts the lives of all who care for or are cared for by that person. The following advice is not intended to be used as medical advice. Read on to find some basic steps to help navigate noticing and confronting addiction in your loved one.  

How to Recognize Addiction

Here are some broadly accepted signs of addiction to help you start understanding what is going on with your friend or family member.

Mood Swings

Understand that whatever substance the person is addicted to, the cycle of addiction is similar. You can spot this cycle by your friend’s mood swings.

First comes the high. This occurs when the person experiences euphoria from the substance abuse. A binge is followed by withdrawal. A person in withdrawal may exhibit depression, anxiety, and the physical ill effects of the substance leaving the body. This period then leads to further craving and preoccupation with finding how to fulfill the need for more euphoria. 

Throughout the process, your loved one will experience mood swings beyond what typical life experience prompts. Depending on the severity of the addiction or type of substance, the extremes may be more apparent in some cases than others.


An addict wants to protect their habit, either consciously or subconsciously. Even if they deny their addiction, they typically employ secrecy.

The obvious first secret they keep is their time. If your loved one frequently exhibits unaccounted-for periods of time, they are probably hiding something. They may become agitated or angry at simple questions about activities.

A dramatic change for the worse in friends can also indicate an unhealthy habit. Addicts will either avoid people who would not approve of their activities. They may spend more and more time with the people who help them get their high. 

The last and possibly most challenging secret they keep is their finances. Often addicts can maintain a good financial appearance for a time. Often they attempt secret means of income. They may even steal from you. 

Decline in Health

When someone is stuck in addiction, they act irrationally and radically. One of the first things to slide is personal hygiene. Personal hygiene is such a psychological activity that it’s easy to understand how it is affected by substance abuse.

Someone in addiction orients their life around getting the next high. Every other activity, including self-care, takes a back seat. When your loved one participates in destructive behavior beyond their control, they feel shame and guilt, leading to self-deprecation. 

Addiction can also wreak havoc on someone’s immune system. The drugs themselves can attack the body’s major organs. How the victim gets high can also make them susceptible to recurring infections and rare illnesses. 

How to Help Your Loved One Through Addiction

Addiction doesn’t just negatively affect the addict. It can also destroy the mental health of those who care about them. It’s easy to read about crime in the news, but if your loved one falls prey to addiction, they may participate in criminal activity. You need to prepare yourself.

Educate Yourself

Be open to changing your preconceptions of addiction. Find professional help to learn about addiction and how to approach your loved one. There is no easy way to bring up addiction with your loved one. But it helps to remember they are not their addiction, and their unloveable behavior is not who they are. 

Even if they have lied to you, cheated, or stolen from you, understand these actions are compulsions from their sickness. This does not mean you excuse the behavior, but it can help your perspective.

Take Care of Yourself

Please don’t allow yourself to be the only other person bearing the burden of their addiction. Often the loved ones of addicts also experience isolation, guilt, or anxiety. By joining a support group for family members or going to therapy, you can make sure you know how to stay in a healthy mindset.

Come up with a plan before you confront your loved one. The desire for recovery is a key part of an addict’s remission. The way you approach confrontation has the potential to encourage this desire.

Celebrate Recovery

Not everyone’s celebration will look the same. Be sensitive to times that might trigger your loved one, like natural disasters or lockdowns. Anything that throws them out of their normal routine in recovery could leave them vulnerable — especially if they work in one of the industries hit hardest by coronavirus. Support them through these stressful times.

Their recovery journey is their own, but addiction is often accompanied by indescribable loneliness. However, you can encourage your loved one that recovery is possible. Help guide them to the resources they need and professional help for the journey. 

About Author:

Maria Hanson writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, She is passionate about the addiction crisis facing this generation and excited to spread hope.