If you’re reading this, you might be worried that your SO is grappling with substance abuse. There are some telltale signs and symptoms someone who is abusing drugs or alcohol may exhibit. I’ve listed 10 common ones below that can help you determine if your loved one needs help.
1. Dependence on other people and/or things
When someone is dependent on drugs, chances are they’re dependent on other things, too; even people. You can also look at smaller scale signs of addiction, as people who are addicted to one thing are usually dependent on others. Addiction to tobacco, caffeine, or simpler things can also indicate possibilities of a larger problem.
2. You end up paying for everything
You might find that your loved one has a well-paying job but never seems to have any money. If you’re paying for the majority of your outings and notice that your SO doesn’t chip in, it might be a sign that they’re spending their money on supporting a habit. As an addict, drugs and alcohol will become paramount in their life; other things, such as food, paying the bills, and fun activities, take second seat to their addiction.
3. They won’t introduce you to certain friends
If your SO is battling substance abuse, they might be wary about introducing you to the people they use with. They could fear judgment from your end, or simply know that you wouldn’t approve. If they’re acting secretive about who they spend their time with, it could be a sign that they’re getting up to something they shouldn’t be.
4. Always drinking with meals and/or taking excessive “bathroom” trips
Someone who is abusing substances will more likely than not use mealtime as an excuse to drink. Your partner might use the age-old “I just want to have one with dinner” to knock back a few… or more. If alcohol isn’t their thing, keep an eye out for excessive trips to the bathroom. They might be using this as a way to be alone so they can use in privacy, or if you’re at someone’s house, look through medicine cabinets for prescription drugs to get high on.
5. Gets “sick” a lot
If your partner is truly dependent on a substance, not taking it will leave them feeling severely under the weather. What you may perceive as illness could actually be withdrawal. Bouts of “sickness” could come on suddenly and be resolved within days or hours of taking the required dose of whatever they’re dependent on.
6. Dramatic changes in mood and/or random irritability
Abusing substances will result in a rollercoaster of emotions. Your SO will chase highs that will ultimately leave them lower than ever before. You might notice that your partner is in an elevated mood while high or drunk and seems depressed and irritable when sober. If they’re hiding their habit from you, their sudden changes in mood might seem random and out of the blue. However, if they aren’t suffering from a mood disorder, substances will usually be behind this.
7. Forgetting entire conversations
The result of overusing some substances — or a combination of them — may result in blackouts. This entails forgetting entire chunks of time and having little to no memory of what happened. You may be having important conversations with your partner and find that they don’t remember anything that occurred the next day. Memory problems are a common sign of substance abuse, especially with drugs like Xanax or alcohol.
8. Rapid weight loss/gain/changes in appearance
Abusing some drugs will cause one to eat drastically less while using others will result in overeating. Weight loss and/or gain might occur rapidly in your loved one if they are indeed abusing a substance. Other indicators of substance abuse may manifest in changes in skin tone and texture and eyes, such as dark shadows or pupil dilation.
9. All your social activities revolve around getting fucked up
You might notice that as a couple, the majority of your outings revolve around drinking or using. You might be going out more than you anticipated, or spending time with people you normally wouldn’t in order for your SO to indulge his or her habit. Additionally, if your partner is insisting that they need a hit or a drink before doing something mundane, like going to the movies or going shopping, this could be a sign of dependency.
10. Hostile behavior when you bring up substance abuse
If you happen to broach the topic of substance abuse and your partner becomes suspiciously hostile, they might be attempting to hide their habit. They might feel accused of doing something “wrong” or “bad” even if you’re just trying to express your concern for their wellbeing. There’s a lot of a shame that comes with being an addict, and at the end of the day, everyone must realize they have a problem on their own time. All you can do is attempt to bring it to their attention; any adverse reactions, such as denial, may simply indicate that you’re suspicions are correct.