It can be difficult to know what our loved ones are going through in their lives. This is especially difficult if they’re struggling with addiction, due to the stigma. When people feel ashamed of something they are doing (like using), they tend to hide it from the world.
Here are 5 signs to look for:
1. They Are Isolating
Addiction and self-isolation often go hand in hand. When we feel shame because of what we are going through in our lives, we automatically become less social since we don’t want anyone to see us in our current state of mind. When a family member or friend hasn’t contacted you for a long time, this could be a sign that they aren’t doing well psychologically.
Sometimes depression or social anxiety is also a part of the struggle of addiction and this can manifest as being “flaky.” When they cancel last minute or do not show up altogether, these behaviours too can be signs of their emotional struggles.
2. They Are Spending More
A very socially acceptable self-distraction strategy is to spend money. Perhaps your loved one just spent a huge amount of money in a way that is out of character (or out of budget). Those who struggle often seek distractions and buying things sure promises excitement and pleasure; an escape from the pain they are in. It is very easy to judge this behaviour as narcissistic, irresponsible, and immature, but hold judgment for a minute and see if there can be other reasons for their spending.
3. They Seem Angrier
Anger is a common reaction to feeling stuck with a pain we don’t know how to deal with. Anger can also mask a lot of depression. Your loved one might not just be “blowing off steam,” but their anger could be a symptom of deep emotional pain and perhaps also addiction. Hot temper and irritability are common signs of internal struggle and feeling stuck in our lives.
4. They Are Not Eating
A lot of people try to self-soothe through food. The pleasure we get from eating cannot be denied, but once we eat just to feel better we’ve got a problem. Your loved one might have gained a lot of weight recently and this could be a sign that they need help. For others, they lose all their appetite when they are feeling down. Sudden weight loss is often due to not taking care of one’s self well.
Your family member or friend might be in so much emotional difficulty that they forget or simply don’t feel like feeding themselves. Keep in mind that sudden weight loss can also be due to anorexia.
5. Unusual Sexual Behaviour
A sudden or continuous interest in casual sex can also be a way that your loved one is trying to soothe emotional pain. Given how pleasurable sex often is, it is no surprise that many use sexual pleasure as a distraction from the pain they might be in. Sex can easily become an addiction if we use it as a distraction in our lives.
Georgia Strait Women’s Clinic is a top-rated treatment centre for women in British Columbia. We offer treatment for substance use, mental health, PTSD, and trauma. If you’re struggling with mental health and/or addiction, visit our website or call us today to learn more about our programs and how we can support you.