Addiction does not often exist on its own. Most addiction disorders involve a complex mix of substance abuse, addiction, and a combination of physical & mental health issues associated with substance abuse & addiction.
Some complicating conditions may pre-date addiction disorder, while others may be caused by or amplified by drug or alcohol use and addiction.
Review the sections below to learn the signs of substance abuse, addiction, and mental illness commonly associated with addiction disorders.
Unexplained Personality Changes
Sudden or gradual, unexplained personality changes often accompany substance abuse and mental health changes, including addiction disorder.
Sometimes we can help someone recognize their addiction by pointing out specifics of how they behave differently than they used to or how they have changed and are no longer the person we used to know.
Unexplained Change of Friends
It has often been muttered, "A friend with Weed is a Friend Indeed." Once drug use begins to control someone's life, former friendships lose priority. The need for increasing amounts of drugs, with escalating urgency, causes hardships that seem to be resolved with the right drug-using or drug-dealing friends.
Some addicts will become "besties" with people they would never have accepted before and perhaps can't even stand to be around now.
Despite major differences in values, backgrounds, and former interests, these "new best friends" are a necessary evil because they have or can get drugs.
Declining Self Care
Substance abuse, addiction, and mental illness often involve unexplained declines in personal care.
Drug addiction can cause severe weight change while increasing daily stress by increasing demands on the addicted. It gets harder and harder to obtain the increasingly needed supply of drugs, to avoid withdrawal sickness.
As health declines and addiction advances, clothes may appear looser and dirtier, and personal care is neglected. Eventually, not much matters except for the drugs.
Unexplainable Agitation or Irritability
People often note "uncharacteristic" anger, anxiety, or irritability in cases of progressing addiction disorder.
What seems irrational or unexplainable to us may be caused by drugs or a chemical imbalance but also may be a response to a perceived threat we don't see.
Addicts may be struggling to avoid consequences such as drug dealers owed money or dwindling drug supplies plus early withdrawal sickness. Addicts may react aggressively to situations that threaten to block access to needed drugs or alcohol.
Withdrawal from Family and Friends
Isolation is the friend of addiction and a painful part of mental illness. Community is the opposite of isolation and can help with both addiction and mental illness.
Someone in trouble may withdraw from friends, family, and their normal "society" in ways that are not simply a personal choice. An addict may withdraw to avoid scrutiny or judgment, preferring to stay alone and use, or use with like-minded addicts who would not otherwise be friends.
Loss of Hope
Once optimistic, and now basically hopeless? Overwhelmed by circumstance, unable to see any way out, and now just "accepting" unpleasant status and letting it happen to them?
Guilt, shame, regret or perhaps grief, traumatic stress, or residual impacts of prior abuse... they all can overwhelm and lead to a condition of feeling hopeless.
Sometimes drugs and alcohol are seen as an escape from accepting or acknowledging reality. Usually, things are not as bad as they seem, which makes the loss of hope a priority to address.