Addiction is sometimes described as “high-functioning” or “low-functioning”. The “functionality” of addiction in regards to these terms stems from whether or not the addiction is obvious and whether or not someone who is addicted to either drugs, alcohol, or both, is able to function in their lives. There are addicts who maintain an air of normalcy- they make their payments on time, they have a job, a home and all of the external material pieces they need to seem like an addiction would be out of place. The “rock bottom” of a high functioning addict can be full of deceit and scandal, shocking because of the normalcy they maintained. Then, there are addicts whose lives completely fall apart due to their use of drugs and alcohol. They look sick, they end up homeless, they lose family and friends, and their stories of hitting “rock bottom” seem to sink unbelievably low. When addiction is obvious, it is obvious. When addiction isn’t obvious and is instead well hidden, it can be very difficult to detect.
Addiction can come through in easily recognizable and more difficult to recognize behaviors. What is most important for picking out addiction behaviors is recognizing when a loved one’s “not normal” behaviors aren’t passing anymore. It can be too easy to write off a loved one’s behaviors as a passing phase or a change in mood when really they are the signs of a growing problem with addiction.
Everyone is prone to get into a “mood” every now and then. These moods are passing and sometimes random. When there seems to be an element of “moodiness” that is more chronic than it ever has been in the past- there could be a deeper issue going on. Changes in tone, attitude, responsiveness, reactivity, and engagement could be signs. Major mood changes could lead to changes in opinions which have been long held. For example a loved one’s opinion on something they deeply value, ike a passion or a hobby, could suddenly turn negative. A change in interests, passions, and motivation are all signs that something more complex is going on. Avoid the “But you love ___” and inquire further.
Appearance doesn’t always change with addiction. Some people are skilled in covering up the signs of their addiction. Others cannot help but show that there is something happening to them. Intravenous drug users will wear clothes to cover up their injection points. Unseasonal clothing choices with vehement defensiveness could be a sign of addiction. Skin color, hair, hygiene, weight loss or weight gain could all be signs of substance misuse as well.
Trust Your Intuition
Most importantly, you need to trust your intuition. If you feel that there is something off about your loved one, ask some questions or call your family doctor or psychiatrist. If you are certain your loved one is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol and there is a need for treatment, call Cottonwood Tucson today for information on our residential treatment programs for addiction and co-occurring disorders. (888) 727-0441