Table of Contents
- It’s A Disease, Not A Choice
- Signs of Substance Abuse
- Treatment is Possible
- Getting Help
You suspect someone you care about is dealing with substance abuse.
But how can you be sure?
It’s estimated that over 23 million people have a drug problem. And for some people, drug addiction ends in death. Drug addicts are not always open to seeking the help they need, and relapse is common.
You don’t want this for your loved ones.
But before you act on your suspicions, you have some questions. How do you know? Are you being paranoid? What behaviors should be a red flag?
It’s A Disease, Not A Choice
Drug addiction is a disease. This truth lies in the importance of realizing the difference between drug misuse and drug addiction.
Drug misuse is choosing to participate in the use of drugs in a way that harms you or others. On the other hand, an addiction is a rewiring of the brain and is continuously repeating the same behavior. Drug misuse paves the way for drug addiction.
Drug Addiction can happen anytime during drug misuse, depending on the substance and behavior, but once an addiction is established, it can be a long road to recovery.
It’s not uncommon to see mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and others, go hand-in-hand with drug addiction. Over 40% of substance abusers also have a mental illness.
Addiction is treatable and manageable, but not curable. Seeking immediate help is essential.
The rate of relapse is high within the first year of recovery, around 40-60%. This often stems from specific triggers within the home or environment where their addiction began. It could be as much as seeing a place or object associated with the drug that could surge them with memories of using.
Warning signs for relapse and addiction tend to overlap with some differences.
Signs of Substance Abuse
Whether your loved one is recovering from substance abuse, or you think they’re headed down that road, there are some warning signs. Each person will display their own signs of substance abuse depending on the drug and the personality of the individual.
As misuse becomes an addiction, the individual may experience cravings for the drug they’re using. They may talk about it, hint at it, or even suffer a physical dependence on it.
When they’re not using the drug, mood changes may occur leaving the person feeling derived and depleted without it. This domino effect leads to the user to spend a lot of time seeking out the drug and ways to get it.
Uncertainty About The Recovery Process
If your loved one is in rehab, they may begin to doubt that the rehab process is working. A recovering addict may start glorifying the days when they used the substance and talk about how it wasn’t as harmful as it seemed.
Speaking negatively about their recovery is also a warning sign that relapse is close.
One in recovery could begin reassuring themselves and those around them that they could use the substance again without getting addicted.
If you find your loved one is hiding from family and friends, not responding to phone calls, texts, or emails it could be an indication of substance abuse.
Individuals that abuse drugs often retreat from their close relationships while turning to harmful substances instead.
A recovering addict may also ignore their support system if they’ve been in rehab.
Ignoring Hobbies or Other Activities
Hobbies are part of a healthy lifestyle, and if you notice your loved one’s hobbies or activities have suddenly ceased, it could be because of an addiction.
Driving While High or Drunk
Catching your loved one high or drunk while operating a vehicle is a major red flag, even if it only happens once. This threatens other drivers on the road and the user as well.
Getting Kicked Out of School or Loss of Job
The user will often neglect their primary responsibilities, such a work, meetings, homework, or study time, to search for a drug. If you notice your loved one has lost their job, has poor attendance at school or work, drug addiction could be the culprit.
A classic sign of a person addicted to drugs is when they will risk anything to get more of the drug or substance. Unhealthy behaviors like lying, stealing, selling drugs, or other dangerous activities could point to addiction, especially if this seems contrary to the individuals’ lifestyle.
Another red flag. Drugs are costly, and when someone is addicted, they’ll pay for it no matter what. Empty bank accounts, stealing, asking friends and family for money – whatever it takes to get more of what they think they need.
Keeping Company With Drug Users
Seeing your loved one spending time with people who also exhibit signs of drug abuse is a sign that they might be using as well.
Treatment is Possible
Once an addict makes the decision to enter treatment (not always as easy as it sounds!), there are two options, inpatient or outpatient treatment.
Inpatient treatment is a rehabilitation center where the recovering addict stays to escape the pressures of their addiction. These facilities are staffed with medical professionals who help walk them through their recovery, as well as encouragement and hope from other struggling patients.
Some benefits of inpatient treatment are:
- Group therapy and support
- Intense medical Supervision, including detox
- A safe environment to recover
- Visits to various healthy activities
- Meditation or exercise classes
There are inpatient clinics with luxury treatments. These can include:
- Horseback riding
- Art therapy
Outpatient treatment is a clinic where the recovering addict goes to receive treatment and then they can go home. Outpatient treatments are more flexible, working with your schedule and busy lifestyle
A variety of treatments are available at the outpatient clinics:
- Group and individual therapies
- Teaching about relapse
Substance abuse and drug addiction are severe, but not hopeless. Watching your loved one for these signs can be the beginning of admitting they have a problem and getting the proper help.
Show continuous support for your loved one once they choose recovery, and ensure they attend their support groups and therapies.
Recovering addicts are able to live happy, fulfilling lives once they’ve overcome their addiction.
If you suspect your loved one may be dealing with substance abuse, read more here.