• In Front of Your Eyes – Seeing the Warning Signs of Addiction

    It requires a great deal of courage and strength to face up to a drug abuse problem. While you cannot do all the hard work for a friend or loved one, you can be the catalyst for positive change and enable those you care about to find the right help at the right time.

    If you are wondering how to help someone with a heroin addiction , or a person abusing other substances, your awareness and support is the most valuable thing you can offer. If you suspect that your friend or family member needs help, or are just wondering how you would know they had reached a dangerous point of substance abuse, these lists will guide you.

    The fact that you are looking for answers shows your caring level of concern.

    Friend Needs Help with Addiction

    How Will You Know If a Friend Needs Help with Addiction?

    Without a concerned support system many individuals struggle with detox symptoms on their own. Research indicates that for a single year studied, of an estimated 22.7 million people who needed help with addiction only 2.5 million received treatment in a specialized program. This means that 20.2 million went untreated. 1

    Is it time to intervene? How do you help someone struggling with addictive drugs? You can start by becoming aware of the physical, behavioral, and psychological signs of heroin abuse and other substance addiction.

    Behavioral Signs

    • Being evasive, secretive, and being caught in lies frequently. Hiding drug use and purchases requires the user to begin lying to those around them.
    • Loses interest in hobbies, passions, or activities they once enjoyed. Addictive substances flatten out the emotional response to other experiences, also there may not be enough time to pursue both things.
    • Drastically changes appearance and general attitude, or has severe mood swings. This may be due to new (drug-using) peer group, or the effects of short term withdrawal.
    • Travels alone to unusual places at odd hours. They may offer evasive responses when asked where they are going or why, and they won’t want you to come along.
    • Starts stealing from friends, family, or workplace to support their drug use. This behavior from a previously honest and trustworthy friend can be a shocking sign. The pain of un-medicated withdrawal causes this desperate behavior.
    • Fails to meet commitments, which might be related to memory loss or blackouts. As addiction grows, not only does the drug eclipse the importance of other responsibilities, the user may lose time or not be able to remember where they were.
    • Has unexplained changes in sleep or energy level. Might be hyperactive, talk too much, or fall asleep suddenly. As drug levels rise and fall, there may be manic bursts of energy and subsequent crashes.

    Physical Signs

    • Sudden weight changes can be caused by stimulants, or by not eating while under the influence of opiates. Inactivity while under the influence may also cause weight gain.
    • Unexplained bruises or marks, needle marks on arms, legs or bottoms of the feet. Bruises may be caused by stumbling or falling. Needle marks tell their own tale.
    • Glazed or red eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual, or a persistent blank stare. Most addictive substances affect pupil size and the eyes give a good indication of awareness.
    • Nausea, vomiting, or excessive sweating, cold, sweaty palms or shaking hands can be signs of opiate detox, withdrawal from alcohol, or any physically addictive substance.
    • Puffy face, blushing or paleness. Changes in blood pressure cause these intermittent effects. In combination with other symptoms, these might be significant.
    • Runny nose, hacking cough, unusual nose bleeds. Any substance that is sniffed or inhaled can cause these types of reactions.
    • Unusual odors. You may not recognize what it is, but metabolism changes can cause noticeable changes in someone’s body odors. Also, the fumes of other substances may cling to clothes or skin.

    Man next to heroin needle

    Consequence Signs

    • Develops a visible tolerance or increases dosages. You may notice this in prescription drug addiction if you have visibility to pill bottles. It can be very difficult to reverse this trend and return to normal dosages.
    • Becomes preoccupied with maintaining a steady supply, or becomes angry or violent when the supply runs out or they miss a dose. This reaction makes clear that the drug is taking over their normal personality.
    • Sells personal property or has items repossessed. Pawns or sells things of personal value to catch up on bills or to buy drugs. Their home may become noticeably empty, or they may part with collections or family heirlooms.
    • Legal problems arise in the form of a DUI, possession arrest, or they might be caught stealing. They may be required to seek treatment as a result, or offered the option.
    • Job loss occurs due to poor performance, being late, etc. They may change jobs frequently because it is too difficult to keep to a schedule consistently.
    • School or family are concerned about the possibility of child neglect. As a person is taken over by their addiction, they may not be able to properly care for children. If there is any concern about this, immediate help is needed.

    Recognition Signs

    • Indicates that they want to reduce or stop using drugs, but they do not make progress on their own. They may be struggling with withdrawal without medical help and guidance. Users in this stage can immediately benefit from a medication based detox program.
    • Is aware of the negative impacts on their health and those around them, but continues to use the drug. If they are ready to discuss the negatives, they may be getting ready to begin recovery.
    • Voluntarily discusses detox or rehab but does not follow up with any actions, or jokes about needing a program. They may be testing the waters to see if you agree they need help. They want to know you will be supportive and accepting. This is a great time to offer resources and information.

    Why Is It so Difficult for Those We Love to Quit?

    Continuous or repeated abuse of drugs causes changes in the brain. Self-control centers within the brain are inhibited or damaged, which shows up in brain scans of those in the grip of addiction. 2 Wanting to change is essential to recovery, but it is usually not enough on it’s own.

    Finding the right opiate detox center in Florida might require a little help from a friend. There are both inpatient and outpatient detox options to consider. Doing some research and being ready to offer information to your loved one is empowering for both of you.

    If you get initial pushback, that’s okay. Continue to provide emotional support and information as your friend’s recognition of their problem grows.

    Man and woman hugging side by side wrapped in blanket

    Where to Find Help for Friends and Family

    There are a number of detox centers in south Florida that provide different environments that support recovery. Outpatient options may be the right starting place, allowing your loved one to get the guidance and medical support needed to deal with heroin detox symptoms or other types of withdrawal, while still maintaining a normal life and keeping up with commitments.

    At South Florida Detox Centers outpatient programs can be customized to fit the patient. Our team will meet with and assess your friend to develop the right combination of therapies and medications to alleviate symptoms. The detox certified physician will discuss the options of outpatient detox, opiate detox, and Suboxone™ treatment. This custom treatment plan will ease the detoxification process and control withdrawal symptoms.

    With you by their side and willing to help them recognize their needs and pursue treatment, your friend or loved one can win the battle against addiction, find new hope, and create a healthy life. If these symptoms are taking over the personality of someone you care about, c ontact us . Recovery is within reach, with devoted friends like you and expert outpatient detox treatment nearby.


    1. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-SR200-RecoveryMonth-2014/NSDUH-SR200-RecoveryMonth-2014.htm

    2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/what-to-do-if-your-adult-friend-or-loved-one-has-problem-drugs