Addiction can be the very developed examples you see in the media. The stereotypical image of a person who has clearly succumbed to a very challenging relationship with drugs. However, every single person who reaches that stage of drug addiction, started as a person without an addiction. They, like most people with addiction challenges, made a bad choice that slowly progressed into a habit, and then a recognisable addiction.
“Addictions…started out like magical pets, pocket monsters. They did extraordinary tricks, showed you things you hadn’t seen, and were fun. But came, through some gradual dire alchemy, to make decisions for you. Eventually, they were making your most crucial life-decisions. And they were…less intelligent than a goldfish.” - William Gibson
The good news is that there are many different signs of addiction at much earlier stages than the common signs you may associate with this kind of illness. Much more subtle signs that despite being a little less obvious, are still a helpful indication your loved one should seek help.
The Signs Of Early Drug Addiction
3.1% of adults in England show signs of drug dependence, and that can be a dependence of any drug - heroin, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines - these are just a few examples of substances commonly misused by people of all ages across the UK. In some areas, drugs like cocaine are a common addiction, with people in London consuming more cocaine every day than in any other city in Europe.
Although different drugs can cause different behaviours and patterns in people (and every person is unique in their drug experiences), there are some common early addiction signs shared by the majority of people.
Here are some of the most common signs of early drug addiction:
- Steering activities they do, or that you do together, around creating an opportunity to take the substance
- Beginning to take the substance despite negative consequences
- Becoming secretive
- Any change in physical health & personal maintenance such as losing a lot of weight (without clear intention to do so), tiredness, lack of personal hygiene
- Lack of care in appearance (where there was care before)
- More isolation, a change in friendship groups, or new conflict with existing friends or family members
- Getting to work late, or being less able to perform well at work, university or college
- Giving up hobbies and activities that were previously very central/ important in their life
- Struggling to focus
- Slipping of basic responsibilities
- Financial issues like having much less money and perhaps sacrificing paying bills (to pay for drugs)
You may also see subtle signs of drug use in the items present in their room or home, like rolled up paper, scales, small plastic bags discarded etc.
When it comes to a loved one we think may be struggling with addiction, what you’re really looking out for is any behaviour, or repeat behaviours that seem out of the ordinary. Different drugs can have different impacts on different people, but ultimately everyone with an early-stage addiction begins simply by acting slightly differently to before. This is why it’s usually loved ones who know a person very well who start to notice something isn’t quite right.
What To Do If You Notice Your Loved One Is Showing Signs Of Early Addiction
Unfortunately, your loved one may well make excuses for their substance misuse if you confront them, even if you’re as gentle and supportive as possible during that chat. They may respond aggressively, defensively, or simply walk away. Eventually, they may accept that they need help, especially if you are able to discuss helping them utilise a professional addiction service. Options like exceptionally high quality therapeutic addiction plans won’t make getting clean any easier, but they will certainly ensure that every element of the process is bespoke, focused and discreet. Options like one-to-one therapies, group therapies, medically supervised detoxing and aftercare, all create the kind of support and environment in which a person has the highest chance of being successful with overcoming addiction long-term.
Another option you may wish to consider if your loved one is resistant to making a change and choosing a better future for themselves, is intervention. Trusted addiction recovery companies like Infinity Addiction Solutions can provide a professional drug & alcohol interventionist service to help you stage a bespoke intervention. It can be the extra help you need to finally help your loved one turn things around, and choose to start moving towards the healthier, happier future they deserve.
“No matter how dark the moment, love and hope are always possible.” - George Chakiris
Spotting the early signs of addiction means preventing a challenging condition getting any worse. Whether you recognise addictive drug behaviours in yourself, or a loved one, the first and most important step is the recognition, followed by addiction recovery support and hopefully then, relapse prevention.
Nobody deserves to struggle with the devastation of addiction, and everybody has a chance at recovery, it just takes that first acknowledgement of what is going on as early as possible for the best possible chance of true recovery.