How to Know if a Loved One Needs Addiction Treatment

If you’re wondering whether someone in your life needs addiction treatment, you’re probably confused, worried, and hurt. Accepting that someone you love might have an addiction problem to drugs or alcohol can be difficult, but being available to help them enter recovery could save their life.

Here are some of the most common signs that your loved one might have a substance use problem:

  1. Increasing Tolerance: Over time, people with an addiction need more of the substance to achieve the same effect. This leads them to consume larger amounts, which increases the possibility of becoming physically ill or overdosing.
  2. Risky Behaviors: Engaging in dangerous activities, such as driving under the influence, using substances in unsafe environments, or mixing substances, are clear indicators of a potential addiction. These risky behaviors not only endanger the individual but also those around them.
  3. Secretive Behavior: If your loved one starts to lie about their activities or the amount of substance they are using, it suggests they are trying to hide their addiction. This can include unexplained time, such as going out unexpectedly or running unnecessary errands that take longer than needed.
  4. Financial Problems: Addiction can lead to financial difficulties, including an unexplained need for money, borrowing, or even stealing. Sudden financial issues, such as missing money or valuables, can indicate that money is being spent on substances.
  5. Relationship Problems: Addiction often leads to conflicts with family and friends. You might notice your loved one becoming more defensive, angry, or withdrawn. Strained relationships and frequent disputes can indicate that substance use is affecting their social life.
  6. Changes in Appearance: Weight changes, lack of hygiene, bloodshot eyes, and frequent nosebleeds can all be physical indicators of substance abuse. These changes may be more obvious to those who see the person regularly.
  7. Isolation: Withdrawing from social activities and usual engagements is a common sign of addiction as the person starts actively hiding their use. At this point, the person may be feeling embarrassed about their drinking or drug usage. 
  8. Neglecting Responsibilities: This might include poor performance, frequent absences, or missed deadlines at work, home, or school.
  9. Legal Issues: Arrests for driving under the influence or drug possession are strong indicators that substance use is out of control. Legal problems might also come up if the individual is engaging in illegal activities to obtain or use substances.
  10. Health Issues: Substance abuse can cause a wide range of health problems, including frequent illnesses, unexplained injuries, and a general decline in health. Changes in sleep, appetite, or energy levels can also be affected by substance use.

Although your loved one might suspect that they have a problem, they are unlikely to admit it openly. Many people with substance use problems try to keep it a secret or don’t even admit to themselves that they have an issue. 

What to Do?

If your loved one has one or more of the signs above, you probably want to help them get help. Keep in mind that they may become defensive or even angry when you bring up the topic. You might also need to bring it up more than once before they understand your point of view.

So what should you say to your loved one? Start by being empathetic and demonstrating that you are concerned about their health and well being. Be sure to use “I” based statements and avoid putting any blame or guilt on your loved ones. Sentences like “I’m concerned about how much alcohol you’re drinking” and “I’m worried about why you sleep during the day but leave the house at night” allow your loved one to understand that you are coming from a place of love and not blame.

Before you talk to your loved one, you can research nearby drug and alcohol treatment centers or get a list of local support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Providing them with useful information can make it easier for them to accept help.

If your loved one refuses help, you can still reach out to a local treatment center like Sobriety Centers of New Hampshire and ask for recommendations on interventionists who can help. Taking care of yourself is also important, so even if your loved one refuses help, you can find support at local al-anon meetings and through counselors or medical professionals.