If you are living with someone whom you suspect is using drugs, it can be helpful to learn more about addiction in order to validate your suspicion – at least initially. You may also want to contact a mental health provider for more certainty and possibly for assistance. However, in general, there are specific signs and red flags that can point to the presence of addiction in someone. It’s important to remember that an addiction is an illness and not a personal flaw or failure. As a loved one, you can be a support by learning more about addiction, gently talking to your loved one, and perhaps getting professional help involved.

For now, here are common red flags to look for in a person you may suspect is struggling with an addiction. A person with an addiction tends to:

  • -abandon friends and family in order to spend time with new friends or peers
  • -struggle to keep up with work life and other personal responsibilities
  • -lie or steal in order to get the drugs or alcohol they need and continue their addiction
  • -have trouble quitting and will end up relapsing soon after
  • -seek out larger doses of drugs and alcohol as the body develops tolerance to the substance
  • -seek out high risk behavior in order to continue with the addiction
  • -experience withdrawal symptoms when he or she goes too long without using


If after reading these red flags, along with witnessing certain behaviors in your loved one, you might suspect that in fact your loved one is struggling with an addiction. If this is the case, you may want to involve a mental health professional. You may also want to face your loved one on your own (initially) to discuss the possibilities of treatment. However, if that person is not agreeable to treatment, then it might be best to get professionals involved.

There are certain organizations and mental health professionals that facilitate family interventions. An intervention is a carefully planned process in which family and friends of a loved one, along with a licensed mental health professional, gently confront the person who is struggling with the addiction. The family members might discuss the consequences of the addiction they are experiencing, while asking the person to accept treatment. Not all interventions work. However, if it is planned well using the support of a drug counselor, therapist, or psychologist, it can be successful. In fact, in many cases, it can be the catalyst for a person to accept treatment for their addiction.

As a reminder, it’s important to plan interventions with a professional to ensure its success. It’s possible a person may get upset about his or her family gaining up against him, and this may exacerbate the addiction. For this reason, interventions must be done in just the right way.

Once you know the red flags (listed above) to look for in a person whom may struggling with an addiction, the next step is to seek the right professional support for you, your family, and your loved one.

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