In this day and age, we have an endless supply of information regarding our health and wellness. And, as a result, many of us eat better, exercise more often, live more mindfully, and generally make more of an effort to enhance both physical and psychological health.
However, despite shifting trends in diet and activity levels, certain unhealthy habits continue to flourish. Take substance abuse, for example. Whether it’s a family member, close friend or coworker, most of us know at least one person struggling with drugs or alcohol. And if you want to know how you can help, keep reading for information on identifying the signs of addiction, and recommending life-saving treatment to a friend or loved one in need.
Is it Addiction? Identifying the Signs of Substance Abuse
Depending on the drug, and person, in question, the signs of substance abuse and addiction can vary. However, addiction of any kind is bound to bring about changes in mood or behavior, and, in most cases, will produce signs of a physical nature, as well. Signs and symptoms like the following are often indicative of a problem with drugs or alcohol.
- Mood swings. Substance abuse results in chemical changes in the brain; in turn, these chemical reactions manifest in changes in mood or behavior. Extreme highs and lows, emotional outbursts, and odd, aggressive or even violent behaviors can point to a growing problem with drugs or alcohol.
- Social problems. Drug abuse is associated with social withdrawal, as well as an addict’s changing social circle. For example, individuals who use drugs are likely to withdraw from their usual crowd in favor of friends who also abuse drugs or alcohol.
- Changes in appearance. People with substance abuse problems often appear unkempt or disheveled, or may display changes in personal hygiene.
- Visible effects. Dilated or restricted pupils, problems with balance, bloodshot eyes, slurring or mumbling and a groggy appearance are all signs of intoxication.
- Withdrawal symptoms. With some drugs, discontinued use results in the onset of withdrawal symptoms. These include runny nose, sneezing, aches and pains, anxiety, depression, chills, nausea and vomiting.
How to Help a Loved One Struggling with Addiction
If you identify the signs of addiction in a friend or family member, you may feel powerless in getting them the help they need. After all, seeking treatment is a personal choice, and must be made by the person struggling with substance abuse and addiction. However, there are ways you can help. When encouraging rehabilitation treatment to a friend or loved one, keep the following points in mind:
- Do your research. Research inpatient drug rehab programs so that you have information to offer. Take note of factors like location, price and treatment methods, so that you’ll be able to answer any questions your loved one may have.
- Show your support. For individuals suffering the effects of addiction, support from friends and family members is crucial to recovery. Offer support in various forms; you could, for example, offer an ear for listening, or vow to help with housework or childcare during the treatment process.
- Keep your cool. Addiction is a tricky, emotional topic, so be prepared for a negative reaction. Your loved one may be in denial, and may even turn angry or hostile. Remember to stay calm and avoid judgment, but stand firm in your decision to recommend treatment.
- Be there. If your loved one decides to enter treatment, your support should remain a constant. Depending on the treatment facility in question, you might be able to visit, send care packages, or even partake in family counseling sessions.
Addiction is a powerful, and even deadly, disease. Thankfully, though, help is available. Use the tips provided here to spot the signs of addiction in a friend or loved one, and recommend the treatment they need in getting sober, improving health and enhancing quality of life.