Every coping mechanism varies from person to person. Some people are more vulnerable to give in to very strong cravings or risky behaviors–and for others, there will be some situations that entice them to go for desperate measures.

Addiction is real, and it can be very difficult to recognize the early signs of a loved one under the influence. Worse, it’s even more difficult to talk about since they are more unlikely to admit to their drug habits. We should also know that users might not be even aware of their addiction and how it affects our lives.

While they tend to hide the skeletons in their closets, researchers have identified a number of warning signs that suggest risks of addiction are at play. These factors raise the stakes of developing an addiction as soon as they grow comfortable in their own chaos.

Here are some of the most subtle cues you might be dismissing:

A history of abuse or traumatic events. Having an immediate relative diagnosed with a drug use disorder increases the risk of a loved one developing the habit. A person coming from a traumatic event are also marked highly vulnerable due to the psychological effects they picked up on an unfortunate incident.

Feelings of shame, embarrassment and fear trigger addictive behaviors without them recognizing or wanting to recognize their actions. Substance abuse is frequently mistranslated to “being in control” by drug users, when in reality, it takes control of them.

Unstable moods linked to psychological disorders. Depression, the most commonly cited psychological disorder, can be an invitation to further tragedies. Overtime, a depressed individual will develop a higher tolerance to substance use — alcohol, cigarettes, prescription or illegal drugs — due to symptoms such as: persistent sadness and feelings of emptiness; Difficulty concentrating and poor decision-making; Insomnia, oversleeping or disturbed sleep; Irritability; And decreased energy, among others, attract drug frequency to the point of addiction.

Hide-and-seek. While this drastic change already hints at an addiction, there’s nothing wrong with knowing about the situation earlier on. A person with diagnosed or undiagnosed issues are terrific at making disguises to hide their problems, which eventually leads to lying and manipulation. They think that they have everything under control; they become oddly protective of their belongings and even have developed a network of hiding places to keep their drugs. When asked, manic periods of anger may take place in defense of their strange ways.

Unnecessary mindfulness. Substance abusers become compulsive over time. As they venture further in their manipulation, they dive into compulsive behaviors they are anxiously driven to perform. Excessive cleanliness, organizational rituals, hoarding/overuse of products (e.g. chewing gum or popping breath mints, overuse of mouthwash or soap, wearing too much perfume, etc.) and the need for symmetry are some of the most common compulsions signaling that your loved one is definitely hiding something.

Secretiveness and isolation. Once the addiction takes hold, it slowly eats away the person, starting with his hobbies and activities that shape his sense of pleasure and fulfillment. What he does on his own will raise tremendous suspicions if observed closely. As the influence goes on for lengthier periods, slowly, they will lose interest engaging socially, including family and friends. The addict will also alter his daily routine to the extremes without excuses. One thing for sure, he is redirecting his ways to avoid everybody, leaving him be in his narrower world.

The scariest part of addiction is having to meet and know someone that is far different from the person you met when you were younger, only to realize that you will never get along. Court trials and separation are a reality for those affected in the wake of many piercing accusations. But what pains the most is witnessing your loved one go through the consequences of self-destruction.

Recognizing these signs the earliest, getting educated and taking care of yourself are the best things you can do to help them overcome their struggles. Once you’re ready and have accepted that you can’t “fix” them, you can empower them through meaningful conversation. Come and talk to them. Let openness be their door to recovery.

For more information on substance dependence and its repercussions, you can visit us at www.manilamed.com.ph.