Families, Recognize These Common Signs of Addiction

Families, Recognize These Common Signs Of Addiction

An individual displays his or her addiction through a range of behaviors, most of which are adverse with consequences attached.  These behaviors can serve as warning signs of addiction, and they’re ones that can help families recognize that a loved one is in danger and needs help recovering from a substance use problem or an addiction.

The time it takes to realize and confront your loved one about addiction is crucial to the beginning of the recovery process. Addiction has adverse long-term effects that will only worsen if they go unnoticed. For family members concerned with missing the signs of drug abuse, here are the most common behaviors a person in active addiction may display.

Types of Negative Behavior

Negative behavior is the action of wrongdoings. There are underlying causes of theses actions coinciding with drug abuse. Although each person may express addiction differently, there is a common theme that ties together the actions of the addicted loved one. When it comes to drug use, the warning signs of addiction families should be aware of consist of the following:

  • Isolation
  • Disinterest
  • Secrecy
  • Irritability
  • Impulsivity
  • Manipulation
  • Dishonesty

When people are mentally and physically dependent on a substance, they lose themselves. The fire that once lit up their lives slowly dims into a dark spiral of existence. The once-vibrant and lively individual turns into a distant human being with the monster of addiction controlling his or her every move.

For people struggling with addiction, it becomes difficult to live how they once did. During their addiction, they find it increasingly overwhelming to keep up with the lives they were leading before their drug use took a turn for the worse. With these feelings at hand, people with an addiction may start to display clear signs of discontent and irritability not only toward themselves but everyone around them.

Here, we explore a few in-depth examples of the warning signs of addiction that families may notice.


Isolation and seclusion are easy to notice, and distant behavior is hard to miss when family members are paying attention to their loved one’s actions. People with addiction often feel shame and guilt for becoming dependent on a substance, so they stay away from the ones who perhaps know them best. The person who is using does not want anyone to bring their drug use into light. This pressing issue pushes addicted people to become more of a recluse. As a result, they refuse any human interaction to enter their life.


A loved one’s disinterest in activities or hobbies they once enjoyed and participated in is another common sign that family members may notice when observing a loved one who has addiction issues. This can also apply to hobbies or participation in family traditions.

Sometimes this moment is described, by many, as their disinterest in participating in certain family activities. A typical beginning is in the avoidance of family meals like dinner. Several sociologists have described family discussion over dinner as an integral part of relationship building. It has been connected to the happiest families and scored the highest on tests involving perceptions of relationship stability.

Disinterest can affect many tastes and perceptions about people, places, or things they once sought after.


As an addiction progresses, the person who uses will eventually encounter self-denial. Hiding the effects of substance abuse and the habit itself commonly happens with nearly all types of addictions, especially ones that involve a substance.

When the addiction reaches a certain level of severity, the family should directly confront the person about their substance use. The very nature of someone being secretive about their habit likely means that learning about the problem will be a more difficult task. Attention to detail is vital in understanding and knowing what to look for.


Addiction is a disease that many different people fail to understand as a totalitarian disease. It is a fairly tricky disease to fight against, which makes anger the most natural to understand in the battle.

Nobel Peace laureate Daniel Kahneman, the author of the landmark book Thinking Fast and Slow, has a name for what happens when people, such as those with addiction, are having an internal battle. Eventually, it produces explosive rage and annoyance. He names it “ego depletion,” the act of the ego losing control because of the many factors going on around it.

A better way to understand ego depletion as it relates to addiction is also to understand the energy it takes to suffer through it.

A person who struggles with addiction understands that composure is part of keeping the problem a secret. However, attempting to keep the addiction secret, which addiction in itself is overwhelming, becomes exhausting over time.

Addressing the Red Flags of Addiction That Families Face 

If it just so happens that the “warning signs of addiction families need to recognize” reveal to you that your loved one is an addict, do not fret. There are manyroutes to take that will lead your loved one to success in recovery.

In a drug-induced fog, people who are in active addiction often do not realize the weight of their actions. They are unaware of how their actions may seem suspicious to family members and loved ones. Although they are the ones who ultimately decide to use the substance, there may be times when the person can’t control their desire to use and the necessary actions they must take to do so.

More often than not, when people who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol feel that family members attack them, they will shut down and refuse help. The approach a family member must take to create the safest and effective environment to jump-start the recovery process includes:

  • Firmly addressing the issue
  • Being supportive regardless of the situation
  • Not passing judgment
  • Being sure your loved one is truly addicted to a substance
  • Correctly assessing the issue using the examples of warning signs listed above or other signs that your loved one may be using drugs or alcohol
  • Keeping a calm demeanor throughout the initial recovery process

Remaining adamant about the help your loved one needs improves the intervention process and its outcomes. It is also advised that families avoid being discouraging when addressing a loved one who is acting out. When confronting the individual, it’s also important to keep the climate neutral and not come across too aggressively. These steps ultimately will lead to a long-lasting recovery for the addict and long-lasting knowledge of the signs of drug addiction.

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