If your loved one starts behaving differently—such as acting withdrawn, frequently tired or depressed, or hostile—it could be a sign he or she is struggling with a Substance Use Disorder (SUD).
Friends and family may overlook such signs, believing them to be temporary (due to stress or puberty) or avoid confronting the changes for fear of offending or further distancing their loved one.
Other signs include:
- Disinterest in activities that were previously enjoyable
- Change in daily routine
- Changes in mood
- Change in weight or appearance
- Change in eating or sleeping habits
- Decline in performance at work or school
- Change in peer group
- Secrecy regarding the phone
- Tendency to disappear for hours at a time
- Deteriorating relationships
- Inability to be present when in conversation
Because SUD is a progressive disease, intervening early greatly increases the likelihood that the person will recover. Take warning signs seriously and try having an honest conversation with your loved one. You can offer to help them get an assessment—the critical first step to getting treatment.
If your child is struggling, set up a doctor’s appointment with a provider who can screen for SUD and other mental health conditions using standard assessment tools, and refer your child to an appropriate specialty treatment provider if needed.
Not all people who are struggling with a SUD enter treatment willingly. Because this is a particularly sensitive and scary juncture for the person who is struggling, try to be a pillar of support and patience while prioritizing getting them in to see a doctor with experience treating SUDs.