1) There Physically, But Not Spiritually

They’ve lost their “presence”, their consciousness, ability to engage with you, or will to participate in even the most basic conversations.

When the addiction and chaos begin to spiral, they’ve lost a part of themselves to it, and are silently begging for help.

2) Eyes Hollow, Desperate
The look in their eyes may have changed. They may avoid your gaze due to shame or embarrassment.

They may be anxious to the point of compulsive or irrational behaviour – all secondary to withdrawal and cravings. They need help.

3) Charges/Drink-Driving/Trouble With Police
Sometimes it takes multiple, repeated legal issues or crises before they decide to take action, but they’ve needed help a long time before this.

4) Evicted From Accommodation
Maybe a flat-mate or landlord has had enough, and decided to impose the boundaries.

Possibly a one-off crisis, or even a slow progression from routine favours to petty theft to feed the addiction.

These are all symptomatic of someone who has run out of alternative ways to cope, who is now run by the addictive pattern.

5) Partner Exiting Relationship
Very common, this one. Has their partner suddenly broken things off, usually in exasperation or desperation?

How many otherwise strong relationships perish, due to the grip of addiction? How many families are split, and children affected?

It usually means facing the underlying emotional issues, and working through them with help, to resolve the pattern at the core.

Sometimes, all your loved one needs to understand, is that help IS possible.

6) Co-Dependence
The normal pattern is for family members to unconsciously enable the addiction initially, without fully realising it, in an attempt to ease whatever emotional pain is in the person’s life.

Later, when already overwhelmingly co-dependent for finances and resources to fuel the addiction, the extent of the problem becomes clear, but it’s too painful to set limits and say No.

Yet this is the best possible solution. Redraw the boundaries and insist they get help. It will ultimately determine their recovery.

And, sometimes, the addicted individual just doesn’t have the presence of mind to do it alone.

7) Extreme Behaviours
When the spiral of addiction quickens, your loved one’s behaviour, attitudes, and language will all change. Increased anxiety and aggression are usual, as they try to ensure access to their coping mechanism. It’s important here to make the distinction between the person themselves, and their behaviour.

Their behaviour, under the influence of psychological, chemical, and physical addiction, is not them. It’s not who they are. They have not changed as a person.

The person you know and love is still there, underneath the attempts to cope. But they do need help.

About the author

Laura Morris

Laura Morris is an experienced clinical practitioner and CQC Registered Manager with over twenty years experience, over ten of which have been as an Independent Nurse Prescriber.

She has held a number of senior leadership roles in the substance use and mental health sector in the NHS, the prison service and in leading social enterprises in the field.