The friends and family members of people who are addicted to alcohol or drugs often dread getting “the call” indicating that their loved one has overdosed. The unfortunate fact is that it happens far too often. Many times, loved ones of an addict have some evidence of addiction but don’t know how to help the person overcome addiction. With the right kind of information and tools to intervene, family members can help their loved one face, and overcome addiction. Of course, that requires that they know the signs of drug or alcohol abuse and how to approach the subject without adding undue pressure on the addict or enabling further use.
Overdose can result in death or disability, although according to the CDC, men die of an overdose more than women. And contrary to popular assumption, people who overdose are in the age group of 45 to 54, not young adults or teenagers. Knowing that someone who is old enough to have teenage kids himself might overdose on drugs or alcohol is a terrifying reality for many to face.
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Signs of Drug Abuse
Drug users, especially those deep in the throes of addiction, are often in denial, even though they anxiously await the next time they can use. At some point, every other priority, such as work responsibilities, family obligations, and household duties take a backseat to their addictions and when they can next get high. The family members of an addict will be best prepared to help the addict recover after they’ve familiarized themselves with typical behaviors and habits of the highly addicted. A qualified drug rehabilitation facility will be able to help you learn what the most typical signs of drug or alcohol addiction are.
Physical Signs and Symptoms
You can determine whether your loved one is using drugs or alcohol by examining the user’s physical appearance, including:
- Large pupils, bloodshot eyes
- Extreme, unexplained weight gain or loss
- Unpleasant odor emanating from the clothing, breath, or body of the suspected addict
- Speech changes like slurring, general slowness or lack of coordination, shaking, or seizures
Behavioral Signs and Symptoms
There are also changes in behavior that can indicate drug use, including:
- Disregard for school or work, in both attendance and attention
- Legal troubles or disciplinary action for fights or other illegal acts
- Desperation for quickly earned money or constant financial problems
- Withdrawn, secretive attitude
Psychological Signs and Symptoms
A third way to determine if your loved one is using drugs is to examine his psychological symptoms, including:
- Inexplicable anxiety or fear
- Lack of motivation or enthusiasm
- Sudden anger or unexplained outbursts or mood swings
- Noticeable personality changes
Alcohol Abuse May be Easier to Identify
Alcohol abuse can be easier to identify in some ways because an alcoholic may not attempt to hide his activity as much. Also, it is easier for family members to monitor alcohol consumption, since a serious problem typically constitutes drinking large quantities of alcohol per day. Because drinking is not illegal, it may be easier for an alcoholic to hide his problem behind celebratory or relaxation excuses.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Dependency
The signs of alcohol addiction are similar to those of drug addiction, but there are some differences. Here are a few things to look out for:
- Mild but long-term depression known as dysthymia
- Denial of any drinking problems
- Unexplained, sudden personality changes
- Anxiety, depression, or both
- Drinking alone or at home
- Drinking after a bad day or disappointment; drinking to “deal” with a situation
- Poor self-esteem
- Lowered coordination
- Slurred speech
- Stumbling or tripping inexplicably
- Inappropriateness in certain situations due to lowered inhibitions
- Withdrawal from family and friends, fatigue, irritability, nausea, headaches
Because alcohol is so readily available, an alcohol abuser may be able to stay in denial for a very long time. Often, it takes hitting rock bottom–facing losing everything you have left–to get the alcoholic to take action. Faced with losing his job, his spouse, his children, and even his freedom, an alcoholic may become motivated to take measures to accept treatment in an attempt to overcome addiction.
How You Can Help
Traditional interventions seem to consist of groups of family and friends ambushing the suspected addict and forcing him to confront how his addiction has affected their family. There are ways, however, to organize a successful intervention that gets these important points across to the addict without making him feel threatened or pressured. Here are a few tips for confronting someone who you think might be addicted to drugs or alcohol:
- Carefully vet attendants at the intervention: who should be there, and why? If one person, such as a romantic interest
- with whom the addict has a traumatic relationship, or old drinking buddies, might not be the best choice.
- Contact a professional interventionist and get some advice on what tactics work the best.
- Don’t force the addict to do anything they’re not ready to do.
- Make sure the user knows you are willing and ready to provide all the moral support he or she needs.
Having an addict in your life can be scary and tumultuous, but it is important that you help him as much as you can to overcome addiction. Love, support, and compassion are three tools an addict needs to survive and overcome addiction. Contact the Best Drug Rehabilitation to find out more about interventions and how you can help.