Have you noticed that a loved one is suddenly no longer interested in hobbies that once brought them joy? Are you seeing that individual retreat inside themselves, interested in little and no longer enjoying life? While this can be a sign of many issues, including depression and anxiety, it is one of the primary signs of a drug or alcohol abuse problem. Understanding why this is happening will help you seek the right help for your loved one.
How Drugs Affect the Brain
People who are addicted to drugs are addicted because of what drugs to the brain. When someone facing addiction takes a recreational drug, it creates a surge in dopamine levels in the brain. This gives intense feelings of pleasure. The brain remembers this feeling and wants to experience it again, and thus triggers cravings for the drug.
The intense amount of pleasure that these drugs can create can turn into addiction. Soon, the never ending need for the drug becomes as important to the individual as other survival behaviors. In other words, taking the drug becomes as important as eating, drinking and sleeping. As addiction progresses, it can become even more important.
Unfortunately, drugs create another problem in the brain. Most recreational drugs impact the parts of the brain that help people to make good decisions and control their behavior. Also, over time it becomes impossible to feel normal without another dose of the drugs. Soon, the cravings become uncontrollable and overshadow everything else in life.
This cycle makes it impossible for people to enjoy their hobbies. Things that once brought joy pale in comparison with the pleasure they get from the drug. Their intense need to get another fix prevents them from having the time, energy or desire to enjoy their hobbies. Soon loved ones, like you, notice the change and begin to wonder what has happened.
Signs to Look For
Of course, it’s important to realize that suddenly ignoring hobbies is not necessarily a sign of a drug addiction problem. It can be a red flag, but you need to evaluate other aspects of your loved one’s life before jumping to the conclusion that your loved one is addicted to drugs. Consider these common signs.
First, look for physical signs. Bloodshot eyes, changes in appetite or sleep, unusual smells, tremors or an overall deterioration of physical appearance are all common signs of a drug problem.
Then, look at the person’s behavior. Have they started missing work or school? Do they have a sudden need for money? Are they being secretive or aloof? Do they have a new set of friends? These can all be red flags.
Finally, watch for psychological changes, like changes in personality, mood or activity levels. If all of these things combined with a lack of interest in one’s hobbies make you wonder, then there’s a chance that a drug problem is present.
What to Do if You Suspect a Drug Problem
If you suspect that a problem is developing or that the person is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you will need to proceed carefully. First, gather other concerned individuals, and speak to the person. Don’t be surprised if the individual is defensive. Most people dealing with addiction are unable to admit that they have a problem.
When you do approach your loved one, approach it with an attitude of concern for them. You can mention that you have noticed that they are no longer enjoying their hobbies and you are concerned. Provide options for help that they could consider. Do not argue, but continue to offer support and options for help until the person is ready to get the help.
Remember, the desire to pursue recovery has to be the individual’s, not yours. Approach with an attitude of love, be patient, host an intervention if you have to and help the individual get treatment, so you can enjoy life together again.