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Identifying the Signs of Substance Abuse

With so much information constantly projected in the media, many people think they understand substance abuse and how to spot it. However, many warning signs of substance abuse aren’t always as obvious as you may think. That’s why it’s important to educate yourself about red flags that may indicate someone you love is abusing drugs or alcohol so intervention can take place - before it’s too late. Even within a short timeframe, substance abuse can have devastating effects on one’s life, affecting their career, family and friends.

If you suspect a family member or friend may be involved in substance abuse, here are some of the major warning signs you should know about:

Physical Changes

Physical changes to one’s appearance and overall health are often the most prevalent signs of substance abuse. These physical warning signs may include significant changes in appetite or sleep patterns, sudden weight fluctuations, bloodshot eyes, and impaired coordination when performing basic daily functions (such as eating, walking, and driving). Additionally, someone engaged in substance abuse is likely to lose interest in maintaining their personal hygiene, often resulting in a disheveled or unkept appearance.

Personality & Behavioral Changes

In addition to physical signs, there are many psychological signs that could indicate substance abuse. Drug abuse can cause serious changes in personality, including new thought patterns, mood swings and beliefs. Personality changes can be presented in many ways, such as depression, anxiety, negative self-image, withdrawal from loved ones, and lack of motivation, among many other signs. When these signs are present to any severe degree (i.e. they’ve been occurring over the course of several weeks or months), it’s fair to say that substance abuse could be the culprit.

Financial Problems

One of the most overlooked signs of substance abuse is financial turmoil. Because drug and alcohol addictions can be very costly, it’s common for individuals dealing with these addictions to borrow absorbent amounts of money from family and friends. In many cases, somebody affected by substance abuse will go to extreme lengths to support their addiction, often going into significant debt or even bankruptcy. A major downward financial spiral that’s caused by no apparent reason could be the result of substance abuse and should not be taken lightly.

Being able to identify warning signs of substance abuse can potentially help you save somebody’s life. If you or somebody you know is experiencing issues related to substance abuse, get in touch with Joseph Montaldi, LCSW, based in San Antonio, Texas, at (210) 722-4714.

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