Drug abuse effects people from all walks of life. Whatever the reason someone may starting taking drugs varies, but tolerance and dependency can develop quickly, sometimes before the user has even realized it. Often times, the individual who is dependent on these drugs will need outside help to stop using.
Of course, there is a special bond between you and your loved ones that runs deeper than words can ever express. From the day they were born, that bond was forged through love, trust and those shared experience through good times and bad times. It goes without saying that you know your loved ones on an almost telepathic level. If your loved one is struggling with a drug problem, those extraordinary and deep connections can become frayed and you can be at your wits end trying to find ways to help them through the darkness.
Is your loved one avoiding certain subjects you bring up? Do they get agitated easily at simple life tasks? Maybe they become irate or irrational during a loving conversation. Whatever the case may be, these are questions you may want to ask yourself.
The Signs of Drug Abuse Are Subtle…
If someone you love is in the midst of battling an addiction, you may be beating yourself up trying to rewind in your mind where things went wrong. You may be saying to yourself or out loud:
where did things go wrong?
why didn’t I see this coming?
what could I have done differently?
…if I only could have been there earlier, this would have never happened…
Truth is, the signs of substance abuse can often be subtle and you won’t put two and two together until your loved one is already deep into addiction. There are many signs that can point to whether or not your loved one is suffering from an addiction, and it is important to understand as many of these signs as quickly as possible.
When Does Drug Use or Abuse Become an Addiction?
People start using drugs for many different reasons. Some experiment with recreational drugs out of curiosity, peer pressure, to have a good time, or to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. However, it is not just illegal drugs such as cocaine or heroin that can lead to addiction. Prescription medications such as painkillers or benzodiazepines, can cause similar problems. An addiction to painkillers can become a major risk factor for heroin addiction.
Drug use, doesn’t automatically lead to abuse. There is no specific point at which drug use moves from casual to problematic. Yes, the frequency, amount and type of drug does factor into what constitutes a drug addiction. However, if an individual’s substance use is interfering in life, whether that be work, school, home, or in relationships, it is more likely have a drug abuse or addiction problem.
Seven Signs That A Loved One Has A Duug Problem
1. Look Skin Deep
The physical symptoms of drug addiction are universal and easily recognizable. While addicts are master manipulators and great at keeping up appearances of normalcy, their bodies will show the signs that drug abuse is present. Some common physical signs of addiction include:
- Red/bloodshot or glassy/watery eyes
- Itching skin or picking at skin
- Unusual weight loss or gain
- Dry mouth or nose
- Persistent stuffy nose or cough
- Extreme fatigue
- Changes in sleeping habits or schedule
- Deterioration of personal hygiene
- Twitching and/or shaking
- Nausea and/or vomiting
2. Secrets Make Them Sick…
Addiction is a disease that thrives on denial, deflection, deception and dishonesty. For anyone that is addicted to drugs, the last thing they want to do is tell people about it. If your loved one has a drug problem, they will go to any length to hide their addiction from you, your family and the world.
This can include avoiding clear answers to your questions if you know something is up, hiding things or keeping secrets, or they may act in unusual ways. Your loved one may be combative, confrontational or irate and may have a story or reason for all they do that doesn’t quite add up.
A person struggling with drug addiction becomes adept at blinding keeping secrets from others, but they are not always as successful at lying to themselves. Even when they “get away” with hiding their behaviors, they still are aware – at least on some level – of the wrongness of their actions.
This guilty knowledge creates a sense of shame, resulting in poor-self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness. In turn, these negative emotions create a need to self-medicate with intoxicating substances, perpetuating an ever-downward spiral of addiction.
3. Lies, Lies, Lies
How do people keep their secret hidden? They invent lies to keep the charade going. Most substance abusers will lie more than they tell the truth to keep their addictions active. Deception becomes so second nature, addicts will lie even when it’s just as easy to tell the truth. Many don’t even realize they’re fibbing or that other people see through the facade. Living a double life is exhausting, so why do addicts lie?
- To avoid facing reality
- To preserve their addiction
- To avoid confrontation
- They are in denial
- They feel ashamed
- They think they’re different
People that struggle with addiction will lie in order to avoid facing reality and protects them from admitting their addiction to the world. Lying requires a lot of energy, planning and effort. In a column on the website lifehacker, Adam Duchis explains:
When you lie you have to consider what you’re trying to hide, figure out a believable version of the opposite, give a convincing performance to sell that lie, and then remember it for the rest of eternity so you never get caught.
Eventually, these lies will catch up to an addict because simply they run out of convincing stories to spin and they have run out of energy to continue telling lies.
4. Mood Swings
Certain drugs can cause great chemical imbalances in the brain, and an obvious result is a wide swing in mood. One minute your loved one is thoughtful, loving and care-free and on a dime they can be consumed with rage then feel euphoria without even recalling what they have done or said to you or others. There is no rhyme or reason to these mood changes and its unpredictability can cause havoc in families of addicts.
5. Loss of Interest
As your loved one continues their use of drugs and alcohol, it will take up more and more of their time. As a result, they will abandon the hobbies and other pastimes they used to enjoy before their addiction took hold.
If you notice that your loved one no longer wants to spend time with their family and friends, or they stop taking part in activities they normally would have, substance abuse may be the cause.
Addiction is not only time-consuming, it also takes a lot of income to keep it going. Addicts will do ANYTHING to get their next fix, and that often includes stealing things of value from the ones they love.
If items start disappearing around the house that are of value and have solid cash value, chances are your loved one is trying to get the cash they need in order to get and stay high.
7. Not Meeting Obligations
Addiction overtakes a person’s ability to think rationally. Once drug and alcohol use becomes an addict’s primary way of life, day to day obligations such as school, work and family get shoved to the background and become neglected. If your loved one no longer seems to care about their day to day obligations, it is a strong indicator that drug use is at the root.
Risk Factors For Addiction
Biological, psychological, and environmental factors have all been believed to play an equal role in the onset of addiction. According to NIH (2010), genes account for approximately 50% of an individual’s risk of becoming addicted. As human biology varies, some individuals are more genetically predisposed to addiction than others. Circumstances like gender, ethnicity and the presence of other mental health disorders can also influence the risk of addiction. However, a great deal about addiction in genes remain unknown.
Environment can play a large role in developing addiction as well. The interaction between an individual and their environment can provide the perfect catalyst to early onset addiction. Factors in one’s environment linking addiction may include but not be limited to:
- Socioeconomic status
- Social network
- Abuse, neglect, or abandonment
- Peer pressure
- Parental guidance
Development of an individual can also increase the predictability of an addiction. When environmental and biological factors interact in a person’s developmental stages, the person is at a greater risk of becoming addicted. Although taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, the earlier the drug use begins, the more likely it will progress to addiction.
Nurturing relationships and creating a stable and loving environment for an adolescent can help develop strong brain architecture when the brain is still undergoing development. It can reduce the risk of addiction and help prevent mental illness from developing later in life.
Self-indulgence from time to time should not necessarily be classified as an addiction. Addictions involve a frequent ritual. Just because you go out every once in a while for a few drinks does not make you an addict, however if you need certain substances to function or partake in social activities, you may be facing one.
Mental Health Vs. Addiction
Addiction can be common for people with mental health problems. Although they can be closely linked, one issue does not cause the other. Mental health disorders are caused by a number of factors similar to addiction including genetics, the environment, and/or other outside issues. If a person is dealing with a mental health disorder, alcohol or drugs are able to make the mental health problem worse.
Depression and anxiety are common mental health disorders that many people in today’s society suffer from. It is common for alcohol and drug abuse to make underlying conditions exasperated. Substances may sharply increase symptoms of the illness or trigger new symptoms.
It can be difficult to diagnose a substance abuse problem as well as a co-occurring mental health issue such as depression, anxiety, or bi-polar disorder. It is wise for individuals consider their family history of mental health issues as well as to seek out dual-diagnosis treatment centers.
Like any common chronic disease, multiple treatments can be necessary to treat substance abuse but don’t have to be the exception. Addiction is considered a highly treatable disease and recovery is tough, but possible. The road to recovery can involve setbacks and struggles along the way, however many have achieved long-term sobriety. For individuals the hardest step is often the first one – asking for help and accepting that one has a problem. Many addicts stay in a state of denial due to shame or guilt about their using, however addiction shouldn’t be considered a character flaw or a sign of weakness. Asking for help can provide relief and kick-start the journey to recovery.
To combat addiction, exposure to environmental and internal factors that foster strong motivations to use must be reduced and countered with other motivators. Treatment facilities are capable of providing this type of structure by removing an individual from their current setting and implementing a structure, routine, and by providing new and healthy coping skills. Stress and addiction are inextricably linked. Finding ways to reduce and combat stress can lead to a healthy lifestyle and prevent relapse. Treatment and rehabilitation centers are one of the ways that individuals can start their path towards sobriety.
Help Your Loved Ones Help Themselves
Drug addiction is nasty. It slowly robs the addict of their ability to love and live and can tear families apart. If your loved one is struggling with addiction, you need to do everything that you can to get them the help they need to break its grip. The love, support and encouragement that you give your loved one will make all the difference in the world.
Suffering with an addiction can be progressive, and if not treated will ultimately become fatal. In order to fully recover from its devastating effects you need to understand all the effects as well as all of your available options. As the leading provider of information regarding addiction and treatment on the internet, the experienced staff at Sober Nation are able to provide you with the information and support you need to break the cycle of your addiction. Regardless of where you live, how much money you have, or how severe your addiction may be, there is a treatment center that can help you recover. Don’t wait another day. Contact Sober Nation today.
You can always reach us at our 24 confidential hotline at 866-317-7050