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It can be hard to admit when someone we care about might be indulging in addictive behavior, especially during the excitement of a new romance or the stability of a long-standing relationship. But if you are concerned that you may be dating an addict, there are a number of signs you can look for to find out if your significant other is abusing drugs or alcohol, or indulging in another type of behavior, to the point of addiction.
Signs of Intoxication
Many people enjoy getting intoxicated once in a while, but if your significant other is constantly showing signs of drug or alcohol use, there is a possibility they might be addicted. Some of the common signs of intoxication include:
- Red-rimmed, glassy, or bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
- Repetitive speaking
- Swaying or stumbling
- Extreme mood changes
- Drooping eyelids
- Excessive sweating
- Smell of alcohol, smoke, or chemicals on their breath or clothes
According to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, “If a person shows a combination of several signs, or has a sudden change in behavior, that could be a strong indication that the person is intoxicated.” However, one of the stronger signs of addiction is when the individual you are dating seems to be intoxicated constantly. They might also go outside or to the bathroom often when you are out together in order to use, which is another sign that they cannot control their substance abuse. If you notice these signs consistently in your significant other, they may have an issue with substance abuse.
Remember: Someone Can Be Addicted to a Behavior
Drugs and alcohol are not the only things a person can become addicted to; some people are addicted to behaviors like sex, shopping, Internet use, gambling, and others. If the person you’re dating really likes playing poker online, it’s not likely that they are addicted to gambling. But if they consistently experience major problems in their lives that can be traced back to their gambling, there is a strong possibility that they may be addicted after all.
According to Health Direct, “Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking, or using something, to the point where it could be harmful to you” or those around you. Addiction also causes a person to act compulsively where they cannot control their dangerous behavior or stop engaging in it, sometimes even when they want to. There are many ways to recognize when a person’s behavior, whether it is associated with substance abuse or not, has become harmful and compulsive.
Behavioral Signs of Addiction
Addiction is a very specific condition that causes people to act differently than they would otherwise. Behavioral signs are some of the easiest ways to tell if the person you are dating might be addicted to drugs or alcohol, as these can occur even when the individual isn’t currently high on or intoxicated by any substance. In addition, behavioral addictions can cause people to act strangely as well and to also engage in many of the actions listed below.
Some common behavioral signs of addiction that you may notice in someone you are dating include:
- Secretive behavior, including lying about where they have been
- An unwillingness to discuss certain parts of their life or personality
- Hostile behavior when you bring up your concerns about their behavior or substance use
- Not wanting you to see where they live
- Forgetful behavior (forgetting dates, not calling when they say they will, etc.)
- Not eating regularly
- Exhibiting violent outbursts and/or sudden other mood swings
- Decreased interest in physical appearance
- Seeming to always be drinking or using drugs, “even when alone” (National Library of Medicine)
- Making excuses to use drugs or alcohol
- Constantly using drugs or drinking alcohol after others around them have stopped
Not all of these signs are definite indicators of addiction, but noticing one or more of them consistently can point to a severe issue. The person you are dating, whether you have been with them for a long time or not, likely has an issue with substance abuse or another addictive behavior if they are exhibiting many of these traits, and it is very possible that they are already addicted.
Other Signs of Addiction
There are a number of other signs that could point to addiction in an individual, and because you are dating them, it is likely that you are privy to certain information others may not see. This can help you determine whether or not the individual is truly in trouble and what you can do.
Other signs your significant other is addicted to drugs, alcohol, or certain behaviors include:
- A living space littered with empty liquor bottles or drug paraphernalia like:
o Cotton balls
o Rubber tubing
o Razor blades
o Burnt matches
o Pill bottles
- Paraphernalia or substances hidden all over their living space
- Serious or minor health problems with seemingly no explanation as to what caused them
- The refusal to see a physician in the event of these issues
- A kind and positive personality one day that turns to a moody and distant disposition the next
- Consistent financial problems, even when they have a good income
- Constantly engaging in certain behaviors, whether it is sex, shopping, dangerous acts, or other actions, that cause problems in the individual’s life
- The constant inability to perform sexually as the result of their drug or alcohol use
When these signs begin to add up, they create the portrait of an addict, which can be difficult to admit after you have begun dating someone you truly like. But addiction is a serious problem, and it is important to understand how you can protect yourself from ending up in a codependent relationship or from worse issues occurring in your life with an addicted individual.
What Should I Do?
If you believe you are dating an addict, it is important to decide the best and safest course of action for you. Addiction can cause people to act in dangerous ways, and it is important to protect yourself, even if you decide you still want to be a part of the person’s recovery.