Christmas is the ideal time to help a loved one if you think they may be struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction.

With the festive party season already in full swing, many people will be drinking more than usual and some may even be dabbling in recreational drugs. But while most revellers may simply be indulging in a bit of Christmas excess, for others their behaviour may indicate there is a wider problem.

As you spend time with family and friends over Christmas and New Year, it is worth paying attention to their behaviour. Is there someone who always has a drink in their hand? Have they lost a lot of weight or are they behaving strangely?

When you’re busy with your day-to-day life, it can be easy to miss the warning signs that someone you love is abusing drugs and alcohol. But the Christmas period is a great time to stop and take stock and notice any changes in the lifestyles of those around you.

If you think there is a problem, it is also a good opportunity to talk to them and offer support and encouragement.

Warning signs to look out for

Here are some of the main signs to look out for if you’re worried a family member or close friend may be abusing drugs:

Changes in appearance

Someone with a substance misuse problem may have started neglecting their appearance and be taking less care with their personal grooming. Their eyes may be bloodshot and you may notice their pupils are larger or smaller than normal. A sudden weight loss or weight gain may also indicate there is a problem.

Secretive behaviour

If someone is abusing drugs, they may behave in a secretive way. Perhaps they keep disappearing without any explanation or making excuses so they can leave the house, make a phone call or be alone.

Financial problems

If a family member or friend suddenly seems to have no money and there is no reasonable explanation for their change in circumstances, this could be a sign of a substance abuse problem. Asking to borrow money for no reason and selling off their personal belongings to raise cash should set alarm bells off that there could be an underlying issue.

Mood swings

Erratic behaviour, angry outbursts and changes in attitude or personality could be a warning sign of drug or alcohol abuse. Drug users can appear withdrawn, unmotivated and lethargic and there may also be periods of hyperactivity. A lack of interest in things they used to love and be involved in can also indicate a problem.

If you suspect someone you love may be abusing drugs or alcohol, one way for finding out for sure is with a drug and alcohol test. Once you have the facts, you can then take the first steps towards getting them the help they need to make a fresh start for 2016.