If I lined up 10 people, could you easily spot an opiate addict out of the bunch? If you think you’re going to spot a pale junkie with a needle hanging out of their arm, while slurring incoherent nothings…think again.
Opioid abusers look – and often act – just like you and me. And because they develop an adaptive behavior to hide their addiction, they often suffer in silence. After all, if their addiction came out, they would risk being shamed by their friends and family, and possibly face termination by their employer.
Thankfully, many people nowadays, particularly those in the mental health community, have dropped the stigma and taken the approach of treating it like any other mental illness. Even so, many with opioid use disorder still attempt to hide their addiction. And some do it well.
Here are 7 signs that a friend or loved one may be suffering from addiction:
Do they easily lose focus when it comes to activities at work or home? We’re talking about activities they’ve done tens or hundreds of times, but for some reason can’t quite keep on task now. Maybe it fluctuates. Maybe one day they’re concentrating fine, and are struggling to focus the next. Take note of the patterns…or the inconsistencies.
Are they forgetting really important things that shouldn’t be forgotten? What about that lengthy and crucial conversation they had with their boss yesterday about the new project coming up? What about something their kids said to them about homework? Did they miss an appointment or piano recital? Constant forgetfulness should never be overlooked, as it could be a subtle sign that something is not right.
Being Sick Without a Reason
Now, there are a multitude of viruses and infections someone could catch…and not one of them indicates whether or not someone is suffering from addiction. But take note of the frequency and duration. Most “common cold” viruses last anywhere from 7-14 days. Is this person sick for a day or 2 and then back to normal? Does this happen a few times a month? Has this been going on for months?
Avoiding Their Responsibilities
Are they missing a lot of work? Maybe their job performance is going down, or they’re late on paying bills. Perhaps this person who was once a romantic, no longer seems as interested in their partner – they want to skip the monthly “date night”. They used to play catch with their kid every day after school, but they’re not interested in spending time with their child anymore.
Unexplained Chronic Fatigue
Do they always seem tired? Now, someone can easily ward off any questioning about why they’re tired by simply saying, “Yeah, I didn’t get enough sleep.” But is this every day? Perhaps all day? We all go through times where we don’t sleep well and are tired throughout the day, but chronic fatigue is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
When in social situations or family functions, does this person tend to “slip away” for a few minutes at a time and then suddenly return? When someone exhibits behavior like this, their absences often go unnoticed because of the social setting. But if this person is dealing with addiction, then they are silently suffering right in front of everyone’s eyes…without anyone even knowing it.
They Are In a Better Mood Than They Should Be
Now, there’s nothing wrong at all with being in a good mood. It happens to the best of us. But does this person’s good mood put off a strange vibe? Do they seem oddly subdued or distant? There’s a difference between being “high on life” and high from an outside chemical substance. Spotting the difference between the two can be critical in this case.
You may have noticed something interesting about all of these signs. They can all indicate a multitude of causes, not just addiction. That’s what makes these signs so quietly dangerous. They can often slip under the radar unbeknownst to friends and family while their loved one silently suffers.
So, take note. Look at patterns. Look at combinations of these signs. And if you suspect something, do them the biggest favor of their life and sit them down to have a talk.