Because substance use disorder is a progressive disease, intervening in the early stages greatly improves outcomes. Families should take warning signs seriously.  Concerned significant others may report these signs and symptoms:
Their loved one starts behaving differently for no apparent reason — such as acting withdrawn, frequently tired or depressed, or hostile
Disinterest in activities that were previously enjoyable
Loss of money, missing valuables, and borrowing
Change in daily routine
Loss of interest in overall health, hygiene, preventative and dental care
Changes in mood
Change in weight or appearance
Change in sexual behavior
Change in weight, eating or sleeping habits
A decline in performance at work or school
Change in peer group
Secrecy regarding phone
A tendency to disappear for hours at a time
Inability to be present when in conversation
Don't Wait to Seek Help
The idea that we should wait for the disease to get worse before seeking treatment is dangerous. Imagine if we waited until stage 4 to treat cancer. Substance use disorders get worse over time. Decades of research has proven that the earlier someone is treated, the better their outcomes--and that treatment works just as well for patients who are compelled to start treatment by outside forces as it does for those who are self-motivated to enter treatment. Learn more about The Myth of Rock Bottom here.
Watch the video 'Don't wait for "Rock Bottom' Addiction Series, Episode 4
Download the Signs, Symptoms and Early Intervention Infographic here
An excerpt from Navigating Addiction and Treatment: A Guide for Families, Addiction Policy Forum, 2020.
A Note From Addiction Policy Forum
Substance use disorders get worse over time. The earlier treatment starts the better the chances for long-term recovery. Many families are wrongly told to “wait for rock bottom” and that their loved one needs to feel ready to seek treatment in order for it to work. The idea that we should wait for the disease to get worse before seeking treatment is dangerous. Imagine if we waited until stage 4 to treat cancer. Decades of research has proven that the earlier someone is treated, the better their outcomes—and that treatment works just as well for patients who are compelled to start treatment by outside forces as it does for those who are self-motivated to enter treatment.
Help is Here
If you have questions or need to speak with someone for support, call or text (833) 301-4357 today. Our staff of trained counselors at Addiction Policy Forum provides free, confidential support to anyone in need of help with a Substance Use Disorder issue, including patients, families and healthcare providers.
Addiction A - Z Topics
1) National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). Treatment. Retrieved from www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principlesdrug-addiction-treatment-research-basedguide-third-edition/preface