We have seen how drug addiction is portrayed in movies. They appear to be uneducated, low-income individuals who are irresponsible and do not believe they are doing anything wrong with physical traits such as dark circles under their eyes, scars, weight loss and more. While these are all traits that can be seen in drug addiction, that does not mean this is how everyone is. In fact, if you were to only look for these signs, chances are you would not even see the real indicators.
Common Addiction Stereotypes
When you think of addiction you most likely think of a person who drinks cheap liquor, who drinks every day, who is unemployed, who becomes physically or verbally abusive, who does not remember what happened while they drank, who has a criminal history, who steals money in order to get alcohol or drugs, who does not have ambition in life, etc. These are all traits the vast majority of people associate with those addicted to alcohol or drugs and while they can be true for some people, the reality is that most people do not fit these stereotypes and do a better job at hiding their addiction.
For example, most will drink expensive alcohol, only drink after 6pm, have huge success in their career, be well respected, have good friends, never had a criminal record, have a lot of ambition in life, etc. Since this is actually what is more common, it can be very difficult to notice whether someone has an addiction or not.
Real Signs to Watch Out For
Behavior changes is one of the main warning signs you will see associated with drug addiction. People may withdraw themselves so they can use drugs or drink privately as to not draw attention to themselves and over time, what they say they are doing may not add up. Their responsibilities may start to lack and the interests they had before may not be apart of their life anymore. Skipping school or work or a sudden drop in school or work performance are also warning signs. Mood swings can also occur due to cravings or changes in drug use. In addition, unexplained spending of money or asking for money without a reasonable explanation can also be an indicator to watch out for.
Dangers of Stereotyping
While stereotyping can help in some ways in detecting someone who may have an addiction, it is dangerous to rely only on those signs for both the person who may be addicted and those around him. Since most people do not fit into the common stereotypes, the person who may have an addiction may fool themselves into thinking nothing is wrong and family members will believe this as well. Due to the fact that common stereotypes are negative, the person may feel ashamed to admit they have a problem because they do not want to be viewed by their friends and family as an addict. On another perspective, the negative stereotypes of alcohol and drug addiction may make others believe those who do have an addiction are irresponsible and generally bad, which in turn allows them to give less compassion to those who are addicted.
While these are all warning signs, they do not always mean a person has an addiction. It is important to know all warning signs, both common stereotypes and points we would not normally think of, so everyone can be more aware and be ready to help those who need it. Understanding that being an addict does not mean you are automatically a bad person is also vital.