Substance abuse is the harmful and hazardous use of an addictive substance including alcohol and illicit drugs. When people abuse drugs and alcohol, it often takes a toll on loved ones and society as a whole. Many times, overindulgence in these substances lead to health problems and possibly physical trauma. Driving under the influence can even endanger lives beyond those of the individual partaking in the substance. There is even a strong connection between drug dependence and criminal activity.
Signs and Symptoms of Abuse
The abuse of drugs and alcohol can be serious issues that should not be ignored. Left untreated, individuals may become dependent on these substances. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of abuse can help you or a loved one treat their conditions early before they become a real problem.
Overconsumption of alcohol may cause temporary blackouts and memory loss. Long-term abuse may even cause brain shrinkage that can lead to more permanent health issues. People that are regularly drinking large qualities of alcohol may cause irritability, depression, and mood swings. After a while, those dependent on these substances may find they need alcohol to sleep, cheer up, relax, deal with problems, or even to feel normal. Once a person becomes dependent, they may experience headaches, insomnia, nausea, and anxiety when they try to kick the habit. Often times, this leads to continued abuse.
Signs of drug abuse may vary depending on the substance in question. With some drugs, tolerance and dependency may develop quickly leading to addiction. Once someone becomes addicted to drugs, it can be very hard to stop the pattern of abuse. It commonly wreaks havoc on the mind and body and may even lead to death.
The first sign of addiction is the body’s tolerance. You will find that you need to increase the quantity or strength in order to feel the previous effects. The desire for a more intense high could lead to an overdose. Physical manifestations of addiction may include bloodshot or glazed eyes, sudden weight changes, constricted or dilated pupils, and physical signs of drug use on the body. You may even see or experience changes in personality and disruptions in normal brain functioning.
As you or a loved one becomes more dependent on drugs, negative effects on behavior will become more apparent. Some indications of a drug problem could include aggression, irritability, lethargy, depression, dramatic changes in habits, and financial problems.
Dealing With Loved Ones With Addiction
If you suspect a friend or loved is struggling with addiction, it is best to handle the situation carefully. Many people become defensive or don’t want to admit they have a problem. In America alone, there are over 23 million struggling with drug or alcohol abuse. Many times, loved ones are left suffering in their wake.
It is important to find your own balance and integrity. It is easy to get wrapped up in trying to help and forget to take care of yourself. Don’t let the addicted person draw you in as well. Remember, you won’t see results by simply asking him or her to quit. This is important to understand. The hold the alcohol or drugs have on them is often too strong.
The best thing you can do for them is find a rehab facility that provides drug and alcohol addiction treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You may even wish to talk to someone who has completed the program. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends programs that are three months or longer. Although 30-day programs are prevalent, avoid getting talked into these shorter durations. It takes time to rebuild after addiction sets in. Allow the specialists and experts help. You loved one may be further gone than you fully appreciate.
If you can, try to be there for your loved one. This isn’t always easy. Recovery takes time and often involves major mood swings and recovering addicts may be manipulative at times. This will likely be a challenging road for you as well. Remember, addicts many times feel worthless. Knowing they have your support can help.
Addiction is never easy for anyone involved. If you or a loved one are concerned that you are or may be becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs, seek out help. Few people are able to kick the habit on their own.