Common warning signs that a person may be experience a drug or alcohol addiction are:
- Frequent changes or cancellations of social or work plans.
- Unexplained financial problems.
- Unusual mood swings.
- Increased isolation and lack of previously enjoyed hobbies or activities.
- Obvious changes in physical appearance.
- Emotionally distant or evasive with family and friends.
While no one of these symptoms indicates a definite substance abuse problem, the presence of several of these can be concerning and warrant showing interest. When a person is under the control of a substance addiction their first response to confrontation is denial. They may become angry that someone is intruding in their personal business or may be talkative in a way that justifies or minimises their use.
Whatever the person’s potential response is, it is usually better to take a “soft” approach. That is, express concerns and ask questions, as opposed to making accusations and demanding information. Once a person has invested in denying their problem, they are very reluctant to later admit you were right. Expressing concern and leaving the door open to talk if they later wish to allows the person to eventually admit they need help without a loss of face.
Many people choose to engage professional intervention services to approach the person they are concerned about. By using a third party emissary, there is reduced risk or resentments and relationship damage resulting from unwanted “intrusion”.
If someone you know is in danger and is resistant to receiving help, there are formal and professional services that can help. Often these services offer a free and no obligation consultation.