Drug and Alcohol addiction is an ongoing physical or psychological compulsion to do, take or use something, despite negative consequences. During addiction of drug and alcohol, the individual ingests more of a substance than they would like, often continuing the action despite harmful consequences that it may have on their life. With continued use, the individual’s thinking is affected so much that they believe it is impossible to live life without the substance.
First things first though, if you see drug paraphernalia you can safely assume that the person is using drugs in some capacity. This red flag coupled with other less obvious signs; can point to an addiction problem that the individual may be struggling with.
Some common signs of an addiction problem are:
Lack of control and irrational mood swings
Mood swings are a frequent symptom of sustained drug use. Someone you know to be warm and patient can quickly turn aggressive in an instant for reasons you don’t understand. In long-term drug use, a person can consistently seem impatient, critical, self-involved and demanding. For the individuals loved ones, this can be very confusing as the person you knew, now seems like a complete stranger
Decreased socialisation, abandoning commitments or ignoring relationships
In active addiction, the drug becomes the person’s main priority. Their time is spent finding money for it, getting it and using it. Their life becomes a constant effort to satisfy their cravings. Family commitments and friendships get pushed aside and left to deteriorate. Each component of drug abuse makes it difficult to maintain relationships, such as the change in personality mentioned earlier. The quick temper and impatience make them difficult to be around.
Ignoring risk factors, like sharing needles despite potential consequences
In addiction, the drug is in complete control and the individual has lost all control. The drug changed from something they want to something they actively need. This need can be more than just a sensation, it can also be a physical need to avoid the negative consequences of withdrawal symptoms. This means that often a person will take increasingly risky actions in order to get their hands on the drug. They might turn to prostitution, theft or gang activity to get the drug. Also, the user may get involved in risky behaviour when on the drug, such as driving while high and at excessive speeds, behave erratically, befriend questionable characters or get arrested.
Physical effects, like withdrawal symptoms or needing higher dosage for effect
Those in active addiction can have drastic physical changes; their face can become gaunt, sick-looking pale skin, shaking, dilated pupils, red eyes, slurred speech and drastic weight loss. A person’s lack of interest in personal hygiene and maintain a physical appearance can be a sign of drug use. When a person is experiencing withdrawal from drugs, the signs can be very obvious. Sweating, headaches, fever, seizures, nausea and depression occur during withdrawal as the user’s body is reacting to the absence of a chemical that it now depends on.
Addiction is easiest to stop before it’s spiralled out of control. Given the likely clandestine nature of a person’s drug use, it is important to be vigilant if you suspect a loved one is having substance abuse issues. Catching addiction early means you have to know what to look for. The warning signs mentioned above are good indicators that your loved one’s drug use should be taken seriously.
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