Substance abuse – the excessive consumption of drugs or alcohol – can have severe consequences on an individual’s daily life, including physical and mental harm, relationship and work problems, and even legal issues. Recognizing substance abuse in loved ones can be challenging as they may try to hide their addiction. However, there are telltale signs to look for.
One of the most apparent indicators is a drastic change in behavior or attitude. This could range from becoming more withdrawn and isolated to displaying anger or engaging in risky behaviors.
In this article, we’ll discuss the various stages of addiction and ways to identify substance abuse in your loved ones.
Stages of Substance Abuse in Your Loved Ones
When it comes to substance abuse, the stages of addiction are essential to understanding how addiction works and why people become addicted. Here are the top 5 stages of substance abuse:
- The first stage of addiction is the “experimentation” stage. This typically occurs when someone uses a substance recreationally but not necessarily with any self-destructive pattern of behavior.
- The second stage is known as “regular use.” This is when a person starts using a substance regularly, and it becomes a part of their daily routine. At this point, they may begin to experience negative consequences due to their use, such as poor performance at work or school.
- The third stage is termed “problem use.” An addiction at this level can drastically disrupt a person’s daily functioning, resulting in unemployment, housing loss, and legal trouble. Furthermore, it can cause physical and psychological difficulties, like depression and anxiety.
- The fourth stage is called “dependence” or “addiction.” When an individual’s substance use escalates to addiction, they can’t quit despite the harm it causes to their life. They may experience withdrawal when attempting to stop and may continue to use despite the detrimental impact on their life.
- Finally, the fifth stage is called “relapse” or “recurrence.” This occurs when a person who has successfully reduced their substance abuse relapses and begins to use it again. It’s important to remember that relapse doesn’t necessarily mean full-blown addiction, but it can indicate an increased risk of developing one in the future.
It’s essential to recognize that not everyone who uses a substance will go through all these stages. Some people may only experiment with a substance and never become addicted, while others may progress quickly from experimentation to addiction.
The addiction stages of change can help individuals identify where they are in their recovery journey and make appropriate decisions to move forward. The model includes six stages: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and relapse. This model is a widely accepted tool used to help individuals and their support teams understand the journey of addiction recovery.
How to Identify Substance Abuse in Your Loved Ones
Early intervention is vital when it comes to substance abuse. Recognizing the stages of change can help you identify when your loved one needs help and effectively treat substance abuse disorders through facilities like The Blanchard Institute.
At The Blanchard Institute, we understand that recovery is a journey, not a destination. We offer four levels of care tailored to fit each individual’s needs.
So, how can you identify substance abuse in your loved ones? Here are a few warning signs you should look out for:
- Changes in Behavior: If a loved one starts acting out of character, such as becoming more secretive, irritable, or reckless, this could indicate substance abuse. Watch for signs of neglecting responsibilities, like missing work or school, and changes in attitude, mood, or interests, or even appearing dazed/disoriented.
- Changes in Physical Appearance: Substance abuse can lead to changes in physical health, such as weight loss or gain, skin color or movement changes, poor hygiene, and dilated pupils.
- Financial Struggles: Substance abuse can be expensive, and your loved one may start to have financial problems as a result. They may ask to borrow money from you or start selling their possessions.
- Health Problems: Substance abuse can cause various health problems, such as liver damage, heart problems, and mental health problems. If you notice that someone close to you is experiencing unexplained health problems, it may be a sign of substance abuse.
- Legal Problems: Substance abuse can lead to legal problems, such as arrest for possession or driving under the influence. If your loved one starts to have legal issues, it may be a sign of substance abuse.
It’s important to talk to your loved one about any suspicions you may have about their substance abuse. By being open and honest with them, you can help get them the support they need to overcome their addiction.
Seek Help with The Blanchard Institute
If your loved one is dealing with substance addiction, don’t hesitate to contact The Blanchard Institute for help. Our compassionate and experienced professionals work with you to design a customized treatment plan that helps you achieve lasting recovery. Our Family Support Program and Alumni Program are also vital parts of our approach to recovery.
Substance abuse can have devastating consequences, so it’s important to recognize the signs and get help. If you or someone you know is afflicted, please contact us for immediate assistance.