signs and symptoms

The Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse

by Pat Fontana

Concerned about whether a loved one may have a substance abuse disorder? Understanding the signs of substance abuse and the symptoms it causes can help you determine whether there is an issue and when treatment is necessary. Substance abuse can affect your loved one’s physical, mental, and emotional health so it’s important to understand the early signs and symptoms.

Signs of Drug Abuse

Look for signs that drug use is causing disruptions in your loved one’s daily life. Ask yourself pointed questions (and be honest with the answers), that help you understand whether your loved one’s drug use has become drug abuse. Understand the signs, including:

  • Continuing to take a prescription drug, particularly painkillers, after it is no longer needed
  • A need to increase the amount of a drug each time, just to get the same effect
  • Recognizing that drug use can create problems yet being unable to give it up without help
  • Impaired coordination or slurred speech
  • Rearranging life events so that the drug has become the priority.

Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Excessive use and dependence on alcohol can also cause disruptions in your loved one’s life. Watch for signs that could include:

  • Lying to others or hiding drinking habits
  • Blacking out or forgetting what they did when they were drinking
  • Frequent bloodshot eyes
  • Changes in personality
  • Neglecting work or family responsibilities as a direct result of drinking too much.

Symptoms of Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can cause changes in appetite, sleeping habits, and mental and physical health. Watch for symptoms in your loved one such as:

  • Appetite – depending on the drug, appetite could significantly increase or decrease. For example, cocaine can cause a person to eat less and less often while marijuana causes the addict to eat much more.
  • Sleep – stimulant abuse can disrupt sleep cycles drastically. In fact, someone who is abusing such substances might go for days (or nights) without sleeping at all.
  • Physical appearance – someone who is abusing drugs or alcohol may not be as concerned with their appearance and hygiene as they once were. Substance abuse can also cause them to become gaunt or overweight, depending on the substance, and appear haggard.
  • Mental health – a major symptom of substance abuse is the inability to function normally without the drug or alcohol. Your loved one may become obsessed with having the drugs or alcohol available, becoming so dependent on the substance that they feel they cannot make even everyday decisions without its help.

Knowing When to Get Treatment

If you are concerned about your loved one and notice signs such as changes in sleep and appetite, substance abuse treatment might be necessary. Particularly once you see symptoms appear, including deterioration of physical health, impact on mental health, and shifts in social interactions, it is time to seek help.

When your loved one has a substance abuse problem, understand that it can be very difficult for you as well. In this very important time, though, you should not ignore the warning signs and symptoms and just hope that the problem will go away. Addiction denial will only create worse issues, for you as well as for your loved one.

Realize, also, that you cannot go through recovery for your loved one. Treatment is a choice that he or she must make. You can talk to your loved one about the signs you’ve noticed and the symptoms they are exhibiting. Speaking without judgment, show your loved one examples of their behavior and physical changes that have you worried. You can and should support your loved one through the process, as they will need your help as well as the help of a professional recovery program.

Recovery is Ongoing

Substance abuse treatment in Miami typically starts with an assessment conducted by a professionally trained substance abuse therapist. It is critical to focus in on problem areas and then to prioritize those areas through an individualized treatment plan.

Recovery takes time and patience. Substance abuse results in life-changing symptoms and requires a treatment program that addresses the spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional facets of recovery.

South Miami Recovery Can Help

At South Miami Recovery, we believe in the importance of treating the whole person. Each of our clients has their own unique needs and preferences. We work with everyone to find the right path, providing several tools to help them in their recovery.

If you’d like to learn more about our services, we encourage you to contact us today to speak to our staff. We speak English and Spanish. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.