It can be a difficult reality to face, that the person you love is concealing or downplaying their reliance on a substance. Very often someone who has become dependent on a drug will not, themselves, realize they have become addicted. Once the reliance has begun their actions can seem like not their own, and there is some truth to that, as it is now the addict making the decisions, not your spouse. Drug addicts quickly learn how to conceal their habit from partners, friends, and people they work with. Addicts understand completely that if loved ones discovered they were addicted to heroin, meth, marijuana or cocaine, their lives would be upended. They could lose their jobs, their spouses might leave them and they would be expected to enter a drug addiction recovery program. With so much at stake, drug addicts will go to incredibly great lengths to conceal their habit. Lying to spouses becomes second nature to drug abusers them as their addiction dictates their every thought and action.
General Signs You May be Married to a Drug Addict
Just having a “hunch” that your spouse is using drugs means you’ve noticed your spouse is acting physically and emotionally different enough to arouse your suspicions. Your hunch may be correct if your spouse:
- Has lost or gained weight in a short period. Heroin, meth, and cocaine reduce appetite while marijuana increases appetite.
- Has changed their sleep patterns. Did your spouse previously sleep through the night but is now experiencing insomnia, sleeping only an hour or two at a time or sleeping at odd times during the day?
- No longer showers, shaves, or brushes their teeth every day. Spouses who were once particular about their personal hygiene but have gradually lost interest in their appearance may be spending all their energy on concealing and obtaining drugs.
- Seems unusually hyperactive or lethargic during the day or night. Methamphetamine and cocaine are stimulants while heroin and marijuana are depressants.
- Suffers frequent nosebleeds and has bloodshot eyes without a good explanation. Snorting cocaine or meth damages nasal tissues. All drugs can cause reddened eyes due to the dilating or constricting effects of drugs on blood vessels.
- Develops skin problems such as acne, discolored patches, small scabs (indicative of injection sites) and rashes. Drug addicts often pick or scratch at their skin because of histamine release by the immune system. Excess histamine in the bloodstream makes drug addicts suffer crawling sensations under their skin.
- Deliberately hides drug paraphernalia–pipes, spoons, syringes, pieces of crinkled aluminum foil, cut straws, empty baggies, rolling papers.
- Has made “new” friends that pop in at odd times. Trust what your intuition tells you when you meet these “friends”. Drug addicts value their relationship with drug dealers and drug addicts over all other friendships because it is these people who can get them their drug of choice.
- Grows increasingly defensive and paranoid when you question where they have been and why they have changed. This behavior is especially evident drug-addicted spouse is caught in a lie and cannot offer a good explanation for why they lied.
Discovering large sums of money missing from a bank account is a solid clue your spouse may have a drug or gambling addiction. When forced to choose between suffering withdrawal symptoms or a spouse questioning the disappearance of $500 from a checking account, a drug addict will always choose the questions.
Physical and Mental Effects of a Cocaine Addiction
If your spouse is addicted to cocaine, he or she is probably snorting “lines” of this drug as often as four or five times a day. Cocaine use causes rapid heartbeat, heart arrhythmia, hypertension and a persistently runny nose, a symptom called “cocaine drip” by addicts. Cocaine snorters also experience a reduction in sense of smell. If you smell something strong and your spouse says they do not smell anything, this could indicate deterioration of nasal passages.
Cocaine significantly increases dopamine levels in the brain. Too much dopamine causes paranoia, aggression, irritability, manic thoughts and audio/visual hallucinations. Signs of withdrawal from cocaine include anxiety, sweating, chills, stomach cramps and suicide ideation.
Physical and Mental Effects of a Methamphetamine Addiction
Like cocaine, methamphetamine increases dopamine levels in the brain. Meth can be snorted, smoked or injected. As tolerance grows to meth, addicts typically resort to injecting meth after mixing meth powder with water. Your spouse may be addicted to methamphetamine if they:
- Alternate between acting euphoric and depressed
- Have muscle tremors and shaking without a good explanation
- Start suffering teeth and gum disease (meth addicts crave sugary, high-carb foods)
- Suffer diminished skin health (blotchiness, acne, rashes)
- Rants incoherently but later cannot remember ranting
- Wears long-sleeved shirts even in hot weather (to hide needle marks)
Methamphetamine addictions may be the most difficult addiction to defeat. No anti-addiction medications exist to help address a meth addiction. In addition, physicians strongly urge spouses of meth addicts to get professional assistance. Medical detoxification, supportive care and intense counseling is essential for overcoming a methamphetamine addiction.
See our recent blog for more signs of Crystal Meth use
Physical and Mental Effects of a Heroin Addiction
Next to marijuana, heroin is the most commonly abused drug in the U.S. It is cheap, easy to find on the streets and sometimes laced with even more dangerous drugs like fentanyl. Heroin abuse is indicated by the following warning signs:
- Inability to maintain employment (drug addicts blame repeated firings on their bosses or co-workers)
- Moodiness, irritability, sudden emotional outbursts (especially when confronted with their addiction)
- Making poor decisions regarding relationships (choosing to be with drug addicts and dealers instead of family members or previously close friends)
- Leaving the home at night and staying out until morning without a rational explanation (drug dealers tend to conduct business at night to reduce their visibility to law enforcement)
Finding heroin paraphernalia is a sure sign your spouse is abusing heroin. Paraphernalia include needles; cotton balls (strains liquid heroin for unmelted chunks); bottle caps and spoons (used to cook heroin over heat) and tie-offs to force veins to the surface of the skin (shoelaces, wires, string); lighters to cook heroin.
See our recent blogs for:
Signs you are addicted to Xanax
Signs you are addicted to Opiates
Signs of Alcoholism
If you suspect your spouse is abusing drugs, don’t hesitate to contact our outpatient drug and alcohol treatment facility in Lake Worth at (844) 211-7944. We are here to help you and your spouse regain the life you once had together.