In most cases, moderate alcohol consumption or occasional drug use are not life-threatening patterns of behavior. However, there is a subset of the population that exhibits habits that go beyond the threshold of moderation or even heavy use. If you think it’s possible your son might be struggling with a serious substance abuse problem, look for these telling signs.
1. Radio Silence
Not everybody talks to their kids on a daily basis. Different personalities and relationships can still be healthy with sporadic or infrequent communication, but cessation of communication is very often an early warning sign of addiction or alcoholism. Your son may start skipping planned events or family functions, often with a flimsy, evasive excuse. People in addiction often experience extreme shame associated with their condition, and they will lie to protect themselves and your image of them. If your son seems more distant and dishonest than you’re used to seeing him, it’s possible that he may be privately struggling with a grave substance abuse issue.
2. Money Problems
Many addicts and alcoholics are otherwise responsible, careful spenders… except when it comes to their drug of choice. If your son has developed a chemical dependency, they may begin to struggle financially. When a person has a physical and psychological need to consume a substance, they often develop money problems even if they’ve never had issues in that department before. Substance abuse can also make earning a living difficult, so addicts and alcoholics find themselves in the hard position of making less money but needing to spend more. Your son may offer unsatisfying reasons about where the money keeps going in an effort to conceal his addiction.
3. Constantly Sick
Some people can function and remain healthy in appearance for quite a while even after the hooks of addiction are firmly in place. However, alcohol and harder drugs eventually take their physical toll. Once a dependency is established, most addicts will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms unless they have constant access to their drug of choice. Symptoms frequently include irritability, too much time sleeping, vomiting, and fatigue. If your son seems sick much of the time, he may have developed a physical dependency on drugs or alcohol.
Stealing is incredibly common for people who are in the throes of addiction. When money runs out or becomes unsteady, the need to keep getting their preferred chemical will take priority over all ethical, moral, and philosophical concerns. An addict will use any avenue at their disposal to get the money they need to fund their addiction, even if it means stealing from loved ones or strangers. For addicts struggling with prescription medication, pain pills or mood modifiers might start disappearing from the cabinets of those closest to them. Prescriptions related to pain, anxiety, and panic attacks are highly addictive and are the most likely to go missing. Even if you have high confidence in your son’s moral fiber, it’s wise to keep careful inventory of any medication that could potentially be abused.
5. Mood Swings
Mood swings are very commonly associated with people that use drugs on a consistent basis, particularly when paired with some of the physical symptoms mentioned earlier. Keep an eye out for tell-tale signs: anxiety, depression, restlessness, insomnia and irritability. Mood swings may take place over hours or days, usually dependent on how much access a potential addict has to their drug of choice.
6. Finding Drugs or Paraphernalia
The easiest, most obvious indicator that your son is having a drug problem is his possession of drugs or drug-related paraphernalia. Drug use lends itself to carelessness and reduced inhibition, so while careful individuals may be able to keep their tools of addiction hidden for some time, eventually they’ll get sloppy. Although it may feel like a violation of privacy, bear in mind that your son could be in the teeth of a life-threatening condition, and do whatever research or investigation you feel is necessary.
If you believe your son is struggling with alcoholism or addiction, it may be necessary to place him in a safe environment with zero access to drugs or alcohol before healing can begin. Do due diligence when researching facilities and their reputation before committing to a recovery program. Many centers, like Any Length Retreat, are happy to help families through the confrontation/intervention process to ensure the best possible entry into the recovery process and guide your son toward healthy life habits that counter addiction. There is a solution, but addiction isn’t a problem that anyone solves alone.