Red flags of Abuse – How to help a Loved one Fighting Addiction

How to help a Loved one

Addiction is a complicated condition affecting the brain. A person may be genetically predisposed or exist in an environment that increases their chances of addiction. Readout below to know how to help a loved one fighting addiction.

Addicts frequently remove themselves from loved ones, making it difficult to notice warning signs. Distance is a red flag in and of itself, so don’t wait if a loved one exhibits any of the following symptoms. Seek assistance right away. The least damaging thing you can do is to show your support.

  1. Physical Red Flags
  • Bloodshot eyes and pupils dilated or constricted 
  • A loss in appetite and sudden weight loss
  • Changes in sleep pattern – insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Deterioration in physical appearance and grooming habits
  • Unusual and unpleasant smells – body, breath or clothing
  • Coordination problems – shaky hands
  • Slurred speech
  1. Behavioral Red Flags
  • A change in financial position. Borrowing or stealing money
  • Secretiveness or suspicious behaviors
  • A change in routine, friends, and favorite hangouts
  • Trouble with the law – fighting, vehicle accidents, or illegal activities
  • Absenteeism and poor performance at work or school
  1. Psychological Red Flags
  • Irrational anxiety, paranoia, or fear
  • Inexplicable change in personality and attitude
  • Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts
  • Lethargy, no motivation, or lack of awareness
  • Sudden periods of hyperactivity or agitation 

The above are generally red flags of abuse. Recognizing abuse of specific substances is aided by the following:-

Recreational Drugs

  • Heroin

The red flags for a heroin abuser are:- non-responsive, contracted pupils, needle tracks, coughing, sniffing, sweating, and a loss of appetite. Depending on the individual’s genetic makeup, the amount consumed, the frequency of use, and the period, these symptoms may vary.

  • Marijuana

A dazed look, red eyes, weight gain or loss, insomnia, and demotivation are typical changes to look for in a marijuana abuser.

  • Hallucinogens

LSD, PCP, and Ketaminein are hallucinogens in the following forms:- tablet, liquid, tea, and powder. They cause extreme mood and mind-altering effects when consumed. They come  

Red flags to look out for are:- mood swings, aggression, confusion, bizarre, unpredictable behavior, slurred, and nonsensical speech. 

  • Stimulants

Stimulant abuse causes euphoric highs and extreme alertness. Substances may range from ADHD medication to cocaine. Other symptoms include dilated pupils, depression, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

  • Inhalants

More commonly experienced in the younger generation, inhalants include aerosols, glues, and vapors. They are easily accessible in schools and homes. Red flags include:- nausea or loss of appetite, paint or other stains on clothing, hands, or face, watery eyes, irritability, unexplained sadness, inability to focus, and slurred speech,

Prescription Drugs

The abuse of scheduled drugs often occurs accidentally after having been prescribed medication by a physician or psychologist for a physical injury from an accident, sport, or post-surgery, or for anxiety or depression. 

Depending on the strength and length of use of the drug, the brain and body become accustomed to it, and increased doses are required to maintain the same level of pain relief. 

Withdrawal symptoms often occur when a patient stops taking this medication.

A clear red flag for prescription abuse is the speed through which a person gets through a course of medication.


Alcohol addiction may include any or all of these symptoms:

  • Lying about drinking
  • Drinking at inappropriate times of the day
  • An inability to stop drinking
  • Intense cravings for a drink
  • The inability to resist cravings
  • Adopting aggressive behavior when challenged 
  • The ability to drink a large amount of alcohol
  • Failure to carry out basic tasks and unreliability

Having recognized a loved one is abusing a substance, your support is one of the first critical steps to the recovery process. If substance abuse is addressed in the early stages, the chance of recovery is higher.

It is common for an addict to deny or reject the initial approaches of a loved one reaching out to help. There will be many reasons to consider for this, including;-

  • Denial:- they are not ready to admit to their addiction
  • No motivation to change:- they do not recognize the harm they are inflicting on themselves
  • Embarrassment:- they do not want to face loved ones with their problem
  • Covering up:- their addiction is a symptom of something bigger than they are willing to face

Regardless of any or all of these reasons, don’t give up on your loved one. They need your support even though they reject it initially. 

  • Build trust with your loved one

Offer support and assurance that there will be no judgment. The addicts may feel untrustworthy. Their trust in you is an essential start to dealing with this problem. Likewise, establishing reciprocal trust is critical. 

The addict should be made aware that trust is a two-way street and that it takes time and a lot of work to trust and be trusted.

  • Take care of yourself

Being in a relationship with an addict can create immense stress. With professional help, stress management strategies can help relieve these symptoms and enable a loved one to offer better support. 

Professionals will guide loved ones to approach a loved one without compromising their relationship. Staying safe and avoiding dangerous situations is essential, and while challenging to navigate, is common sense and should be adhered to at all times.

  • Communicate

With sensitivity and guidance from professionals, communication from a loved one may be the turning point in an addict’s downward spiral. 

Letting an addict know the consequences of their actions through honest and unemotive communication may help them. They need to want to change and seek help. 

Consistency, communication, and patience may help them want to change. Professionals will suggest counseling, and this is a very effective form of treatment for any addict.

Therapies in Substance Abuse Treatment

Programs offered for substance abuse treatment vary from person to person – there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Inpatient and Outpatient Rehabilitation clinics or self-help programs provide support for substance abusers. 

Understanding the various options and finding a good fit is one of the most critical steps to take on the road to recovery for both you and the addict’s friends and family.


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