If you suspect a loved one has an addiction, but you’re not sure, these tips could help you spot what’s really going on.
Addictions can be hard to spot, particularly if it is in a friend or family member you don’t see that
often. We have plenty of advice on how to stage an intervention – or even just get them to talk
about it – available in our pages. However, that’s not much help when you don’t know what’s going
If you are worried about a loved one suffering from an addiction, you can call us for help and advice –
Our supportive staff is always here to listen. Or if you’re not sure whether that’s what you need,
then keep reading. If your loved one sports two or more of the following hidden signs, they may well
have a problem with drugs or alcohol.
The 5 Signs to Look Out For in Hidden Addictions
Try to spot these five signs of drug addiction if your husband, wife, son, or daughter is behaving suspiciously.
1 – They Are Isolating Themselves
If the loved one you are concerned about is using drugs or alcohol, they will start to distance themselves from those that are likely to tell them it’s a bad idea. Think about it: if you were trying to
hide an alcohol addiction, you would spend less time with your parents, siblings, or best friends,
since they would likely give you a hard time for it.
If your loved one is isolating themselves from you, it’s possible they are hiding something, and that
something might be an addiction. Addicts can be incredibly lonely 1 , so try to reach out and stay in
2 – They Experience Extremes in Mood
When someone is going from euphoric to depressed in the space of half an hour, there’s something
wrong. It might be that they are unwell, it might be that they are on a new psychiatric medication, or
it might be that they are on drugs.
Extremes in mood in drug and alcohol addicts is well documented in the scientific community 2 . It is
usually accompanied by a reactive mood. Not only is your loved one more likely to experience
extreme highs and lows, they are also likely to be highly reactive to emotional stimuli. This comes
from dysregulation of key neurochemical elements caused by the pleasure/reward system of drug
3 – Their Finances Are a Mess
Not only are their finances showing signs of struggle, but when drug use is involved, there’s usually
no explanation for the apparent struggle. Your loved one might have a great salary and could still be
asking you for a loan at the end of the month. They might be usually good with money but are
suddenly running into financial troubles.
People who are drug addicts – particularly those that are addicted to expensive drugs like cocaine –
tend to spend every penny they have on those drugs. Their ability to control their spending is
obliterated by their desire to be high for longer. It can interfere with other responsibilities like
paying rent or council tax. Eventually, the drugs will see your loved one homeless if it continues.
4 – There’s Paraphernalia In Their Home Drug
paraphernalia is easy to spot when you familiarise yourself with the signs. If your loved one is
snorting a substance, look for a tray with white powder in evidence, or rolled up bank notes or small
straws. If they are drinking too much, there will be bottles everywhere and their bottle recycling bin
will be full. If they are injecting, look for needles. If you suspect a cannabis addiction, check for the
ends of cigarettes that haven’t been smoked.
No drug addict can fully cover their tracks in terms of paraphernalia. It could be crumbs of drugs left
lying on the table or carpet, or it could be outright bottles of pills. One way or another, their living
space will have clues.
5 – Their Friends Have Changed
If your loved one suddenly starts hanging around with suspicious characters, this can mean
something strange is going on. Especially if they stop talking to the friends they once had. This is an
ominous sign because it could mean that their social circle has changed to those who also use the
drugs they are taking.
If your loved one suddenly goes out drinking five days a week with new friends, is always lending
them money, or feels pressured to keep up with their drinking, smoking, or drug taking habits,
addictions can easily form.
Getting Help for Addiction Near You
If your loved one is displaying two or more of the above signs, you may be dealing with an addiction.
Try to raise the subject with them about it and, if all else fails, staging an intervention is the final
step. Call Help4Addiction on 0203 955 7700 to talk through your options. Remember that you are
not to blame for a loved one’s addiction and try your best to do what you can.