For many people, the holidays are a chance to celebrate and reconnect with family and friends. Food, drink and lively conversations flow freely. It’s normal to indulge in all sorts of foods and beverages, and overdoing it is not uncommon. However, you may notice a family member is acting a bit odd or has changed dramatically since the last time you saw them. Perhaps they’re just getting carried away with the holiday cheer. Or, maybe they’re struggling to hide an addiction to alcohol or drugs.
Addiction doesn’t look a certain way. You can’t tell that your family member is struggling simply by the way they dress or speak. Sadly, older adults are not immune to developing issues with substance misuse later in life. They could be plagued with chronic pain or insomnia. A huge number of medications used to treat these conditions are highly addictive.
Are you worried that a loved one may be concealing a substance use disorder? Here are some signs that could indicate a serious problem with addiction during the holidays.
1. They Appear Sick or Unwell
If your family member has an addiction, the disease is bound to take its toll on their health. They may have red-rimmed or bloodshot eyes. Their complexion may look dull or patchy.
You may also notice significant fluctuations in weight over a short amount of time. Sometimes people who are struggling with addiction shed pounds because they’re neglecting a healthy diet. On the other hand, those who face an alcohol addiction may put on additional weight due to the extra calories they’re ingesting.
2. They Show Signs of Intoxication
This sign may be more difficult to distinguish, as plenty of people tend to imbibe more than usual during the holiday season. However, if you notice your family member has slurred speech, difficulties keeping their balance or other signs of being under the influence even when they’re not drinking, these could be red flags.
3. They Go Through Noticeable Mood Swings
One moment your family member could be the life of the party. The next, they’re picking a fight or sitting alone in a corner looking despondent. It could be that your family member is high or drunk. Also, repeated misuse of drugs or alcohol can impact the brain’s chemistry over time, making users more susceptible to mood swings.
4. They Disappear and Reappear Without Explanation
Those with an active addiction often withdraw from people and activities that used to bring them joy. If you notice a loved one disappearing and reappearing without explanation, they may be tracking down and using the substance they’re addicted to. As addiction grows, the cycle of abuse leaves less room for hobbies, events or even the people they love.
Find Effective Treatment for Your Family Member
The goal of trying to recognize these signs of addiction during your holiday events is not to bust your family member or shame them. Reaching out to offer help and compassion if you see a pattern of substance misuse could save your relative’s life.
If your family member is open to getting help, tell them about the evidence-based treatments at Gateway Foundation. We offer individualized treatment programs to people struggling with substance addiction to help them find the path to recovery. Are you concerned about a loved one? Contact us today and speak with a caring member of our team.