P.A. asks: How do I know if my husband is addicted? What signs should I be looking for?
This is something that most loved ones of addicts wonder about. They have some suspicions, but aren’t sure exactly what to look for. And because most family members don’t want to think that a person they love is having a problem with addiction, they often minimize the signs they’re seeing and doubt themselves instead. The decision to do this generally keeps the problem going for a lot longer.
A good gauge is that if you think there could be something going on, there just may be. It’s best to do what you can to check it out, rather than just hope everything is fine. If your instincts are telling you that something is wrong, you very well could be right.
The signs you need to be looking for have to do with changes in patterns of both habits and behaviours. When people become consumed with addiction, their priorities change to less healthy ones. For example, someone who is using alcohol and drugs, going to the casino more frequently, or gaming online for many hours – especially at night – will often experience trouble getting up in time to get to work or school in the morning.
They also may start hanging out with different friends or colleagues, or they may start wearing different kinds of clothes. They may be more concerned about their appearance or they might choose to not take as good care of their hygiene as they used to. If they are a student, their grades may start to slip – and if they work, you may be getting calls from employers wondering where they are. And as this occurs with greater frequency, you may find yourself being asked for money more often or realize that your joint bank account is shrinking.
You also may be able to smell chemicals on them that weren’t showing up before. People who drink too much sometimes switch to vodka, thinking that other people won’t be able to smell it on them. But vodka does have a smell to it – as do the mints used to try to cover up that odour. Drugs also have chemical scents that can last on the body and clothing for long periods of time. That can be a real giveaway, one that the addict may not think can ‘out’ them.
In short, occurrences like these that seem out of the ordinary to you are worth noting and checking out. It’s best to recognize addictive behaviours as early as possible because addiction is progressive and generally won’t get better if it’s ignored.
Thank you for this very important question.
All my best,