Drug Addiction: Symptoms, Signs, and How To Help Your Loved Ones
Drug addiction can disrupt lives, alter relationships, and leave scars that the test of time simply cannot heal. While drug addiction directly affects the user, it also creates waves, rippling across their loves ones, such as friends and family. It’s a touchy subject, but it’s one that, much like any problem, needs to be addressed at full force.
Moments of clarity come in short supply to those suffering from the symptoms of addiction. We’ll cover the signs of potential substance abuse, symptoms one can suffer from, and how to help your loves ones.
Those suffering from addiction dip into a fog, a haze; even when they have those short-lived moments where they want to get clean, it’s never that simple. They need help; everyone in the direct effect of addiction is on the line. Friends, family, and the user themselves.
Physical Signs Your Loved One May Be Addicted To Drugs
It’s not always easy to spot. If you’re inexperienced with noticing physical signs, then this may be even harder to detect. Below, you’ll find a lot of the physical signs, as well as behavioral signs that your loved one may getting involved with substance abuse.
Physical Sign of Addiction: There are many different appearance alterations one may find when they suspect their loved one to begin using drugs.If you’re hypervigilant of your loved one and their appearance, you may notice an increase in hefty clothing despite the fact that the weather outside may not permit it. If your loved one is wearing a hoodie in 90 degree weather, something isn’t right.
Hasty Weight Shifts: If you can notice extreme weight loss in a short matter of time, and you’re certain that your loved one hasn’t begun a new cardio regiment or anything of the sort, it’s a red flag. Excessive bodyweight declination is one of the first physical signs.
Bruising, Marks: It may sound simple to spot these, but if your loved one is going through the trials of addiction, they’re not going to let anybody know it. They may begin wearing bigger clothing, articles they normally don’t wear, such as tight-knit hats and gloves.The human body isn’t meant to consume narcotics; bruising and injection marks, depending on the type of vice, will become apparent.
Emotional Signs of Addiction
Behavioral patterns change, and depending on the severity and acceleration of your loved one’s plight, they will change how they emotionally interact with you. More often than not, this will turn into complete avoidance, frequently going to their own room or section of the home, and restricting any and all emotional conversation, no matter what topic it is on.
Emotional Withdrawal: If you could previously have long talks about love and life, but now you find your loved one is holding back from all sources of emotional conversation or interactions, this is a big red flag.These can often be mistaken as signs for depression, or anxiety, when in reality, it’s something far worse, and controllable. For this stage, it’s extremely difficult to determine if your loved one is beginning, or reentering a world of addiction.This is simply the groundwork that you need to pay attention to, and watch the next steps to determine exactly what’s going on.
Secrecy: Entering their own room and remaining alone isn’t an immediate sign, but it is a warning shot. It’s when your loved one begins keeping absolutely everything secret that concerns should arise.Subjects such as their whereabouts, who they are with, or why they’ve been coming home at such infrequent times, or not until the next day—these are all symptomatic of addiction. As an emotional defense mechanism, they pull themselves back to live in their own world, where only one thing matters: their vice.
Interest Recession: If your loved one enjoyed going to the movies on a frequent basis, performing with a musical instrument, or reading an excessive amount of books, you may find that it’s no longer the case. When your loved one begins to recede from all they held dear, whether it’s physical activities, social interactions and situations, or all of the above, you need to remain vigilant.
Symptoms That An Addict Feels
The most important thing to remember—whether you plan to stage an intervention or convince your loved one to commit themselves—is that you are not in their shoes. While drug addiction ruins lives, the ones most affected by this are not the sober family and friends of the user.
This isn’t to say that their emotional strain has no merit; it most certainly does. However, the symptoms are incurred to the user; they feel the direct physical effects of their addiction, especially in lucid moments.
Clarity has left the building long before you ever get to the process of staging an intervention, or take other measures to attempt to aid your loved one. They’re going to physically and mentally feel the worst of their addiction when they begin detoxification, and that knowledge is well known.
As such, it becomes even more of a deterrent for addicts to seek out help, coupled with criminalization in some cases.
Your loved one, during their active addiction, will feel the following:
The Science Behind It: Narcotics activate pleasure centers in the brain, such as dopamine, and in some cases, serotonin. While actively on drugs, they’re having the time of their life anatomically, while they refuse to acknowledge the physical effects that they are going through.In all reality, during their active addiction, they feel good, and create a false sense of security that they are “bulletproof,” or “invincible.” While it may feel that way, coming down from the high is quite the opposite.
Withdrawal: When a user continues to increase their dosage, due to their body developing an immunity to less pure, or shorter doses of their preferred narcotic, their need becomes greater, and their body deteriorates quicker.As a result, they tend to run out of their vice rather quickly, and drug dealers know to increase their prices due to a physical need coming from their customers.At this point, the user is more likely to steal from the ones closest to them, whether it be family in their home, close friends, or other relatives. At this point, they’re beginning to go through withdrawal: one of the flaming rings of hell between addiction and recovery.During this, depending on their substance, they can feel shaking, sweats, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and if the withdrawal is “cold turkey” they can reach critically fatal levels.
Getting Sick: If you’ve heard this terminology, it’s concurrent with specific addictions, but is also used for a multifaceted list of addictive drugs. When an addict is “getting sick,” they are going through withdrawal, and feeling the symptoms listed above.It’s never an easy thing, and during this stage, they are more likely to reach for drastic measures to receive their preferred substance.
Getting Well: In this stage, they’ve gone through the “sickness” and have come out on top—in their eyes. “Getting well” is when an addict escapes the pitfall of recovery by attaining their vice, and reentering their definition of being high.
The Mind of an Addict
Researchers and sober patients agree with one fact: there is nobody more cunning than a drug addict. They will lie, cheat, steal, or do whatever it takes to receive their high. This is not to demonize them; this is a critical level of crying out. Even if the addict doesn’t want to believe it, they’re looking for someone to care.
During the emotional stages, such as family therapy sessions that one may endure post-detox, addicts have to look towards a circle of strength, most notably their loved ones and close friends.
These are the people that cared; these are the people that are left with emotional scars, as is the addict. There’s a stage of regret, where the addict will often apologize for their wrongdoings after regaining their clarity.
However, there should be no mistake: there is no such term as an ex-addict. They will struggle with this for the rest of their lives. First and foremost, you, the family or friend, need to understand this.
Proper Ways To Help Your Loved Ones
The first term that comes to mind in this case is an intervention. Truth is, there are many methods, and you’re playing minesweeper when you approach them. If there were one-hundred choices, ninety-nine of them would be incorrect. What works for some may not work for others, due to differences such as personality, vice, depth of addiction, and numerous other factors.
If you want to help your loved ones find the road to recovery, there’s a plethora of options you can choose. Here are the two most proven effective measures to approach someone about their addiction.
Intervention: These have been glorified by reality television shows, but a true intervention isn’t as easy as expensive cameras make them out to be. It’s an emotional experience, and hefty amounts of endurance, from each and every person, are required.It’s no simple task, either. Staging an intervention involves strategic timing, scripted messages that each member would like to convey to the subject of the intervention—the addict—and immense amounts of strength to stay within the appropriate parameters.When you stage an intervention, every emotion under the sun comes out. However, these aren’t considered beneficial to the entire process. It can make the addicted individual extremely anxious, angered, and they may fall under duress.
The One-on-one: This applies to whomever the addicted individual is closest to. Often times, friends are the family that you choose, and the addicted individual’s friends can be more influential than their family members.Even this method requires one to resist the urge to speak their mind fully. They may approach the addicted individual in many different ways, each of them casual, with one sole intent: to get through to them.If they’re aware of the addicted individuals schedule, and know when they can expect to see them coming home or heading to a local place, it’s often the best time to approach them.When you stage an intervention, addicts can feel cornered—they are being cornered, under those circumstances—when an influential person in their lives approached them quietly, it can be more constructive than a group meeting.
When your loved one listens and agrees to go to a detox program, to then be placed into rehabilitation, and regain their life, they’re not going into an easy solution. It’s just as hard to come down from an addiction in a safe environment emotionally, as it is to come down from an addiction in an unsafe environment, physically.
Detox comes with the addition of medications to help bring a patient down from their high in a safe, medically monitored environment. When an individual leaves detox and goes into rehab, they’re in the middle of the thick of it. When they leave rehab, it only takes one single time to revert back to their vice.
By helping them with meetings and never saying “I don’t have the time,” or anything of the sort, you’re doing more good than you know. The mind of an addict, even months after becoming sober, has an etched verse in their mind telling them to hunt down their next high.
While this fades with time, you need to ensure you’re always there for your loved one to assist them. They’re not out of the woods yet.
Reminder: It’s A Two-Way Street
If you’re the one suffering from addiction, or if you are the loved one of a person suffering from addiction, you’re both on the same street in some regards. While one experiences pain indirectly, and the others indirectly, it’s important to understand that one can only be helped when they are open to it.
Often times, loved ones are the only people who can get through to those that are so heavily addicted on a narcotic substance. During an intervention, when an ultimatum is given, addicts may listen, or they may not—if they do, you, the family member or friend, have just given them a strand of rope. They decided to grab hold and climb up, because they can trust the person holding the other end.