When an individual is using or abusing substances, they often go to great lengths to conceal their activities from others, particularly those close to them. This can sometimes make it hard to tell if an individual is struggling to cope with dependence or addiction. However, recognizing the signs early can make a big difference to their chances of successful healing in a drug addiction treatment center. In this article, we take a closer look at the signs to watch out for that may indicate there’s an addiction problem brewing beneath the surface.
The most common signs a person may be abusing substances are as follows:
- Giving up participating in the activities or hobbies they previously enjoyed
- Mixing in different social circles or hanging out with new acquaintances
- Mood swings or behaving noticeably out of character
- Declining performance at work, school or home
- Having financial difficulties for no apparent reason
- Appearing run down, hopeless or depressed
- Neglecting personal hygiene and appearance
- Using drugs on a regular basis
- Lying about their substance use or stealing from others to finance it
- Avoiding loved ones in favor of those also indulging in substance use and abuse
- Having an inability to enjoy a social situation without being high
- Getting into trouble with the law as illicit behavior increases
When to Seek Medical Care
Recognizing someone has an issue with substance use is the first step in getting them help. However, knowing when an individual’s substance abuse has gone too far and it’s necessary to make a call to the doctor is another thing. Depending on the drugs the individual has been abusing and for how long, the associated withdrawal symptoms have the potential to be extremely severe.
Many people believe withdrawal is something that’s experienced when a person goes through detox when on a drug rehabilitation program. The fact is that a heavy drug user will almost certainly start to experience distressing symptoms whenever they stop using.
This is an incredibly vulnerable time for a person struggling with substance abuse as they may wish to use drugs to prevent withdrawal symptoms from emerging at all. This type of self-medicating with substances often leads to a deepening drug addiction that is harder – although not impossible – to treat.
If individuals show any of the following symptoms, it is advised to call a medical professional:
- Tremors or seizures caused by withdrawal that are not accompanied by hallucinations or delirium
- Jaundice complexion, with yellow-tinted skin and eyes
- Putting on weight around the girth
- Swelling legs
- Persistent cough, congestion or a runny nose
- Overwhelming feelings of depression and anxiety
- Pain at the sites on the body the individual injects
- Heart palpitations and fever
What Are the Causes and Risk Factors of Substance Abuse?
There are many reasons people turn to drugs initially and it is not uncommon in modern day society for there to be some experimentation as a young adult. However, some people have a more complex relationship with substances than an occasional drinker or drug-taker and they may be more susceptible to developing dependence or addiction than others. Most drug rehabilitation programs use behavioral therapies to address negative thoughts and feelings created by substance abuse in order to eliminate cravings.
Some people with substance use disorder were influenced as children or as teenagers from environments or circumstances affecting their early development, such as:
- Chaos in the home environment from ineffective parenting
- Lack of emotional connection from nurturing parents
- Parental substance use or abuse
Other risk factors related to the individual themselves including:
- Male gender
- Presence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or antisocial personality disorder
- History of mental health problems
The factors relating to a child’s interaction with the world outside their family can also increase the risk of substance abuse including:
- Detached or withdrawn behavior in class
- Displays of inappropriate aggression
- Poor social skills and inability to cope in group-settings
- Poor educational performance or difficulty keeping up
- Mixing with a deviant peer group or becoming isolated from peers altogether
Can Drug Addiction Be Cured or Prevented?
Addiction is classified as a chronic illness like diabetes or heart disease, which means that there is generally no cure. However, addiction can be successfully treated and managed to allow individuals to go on to live healthy lives in recovery for many years. Individuals recovering from addiction are likely to remain at risk of relapse for many years after attending a drug addiction treatment center. The majority of drug rehab centers provide patients with a personalized recovery strategy that supports their unique needs.
In terms of preventing substance use disorder from developing, NIDA-funded research shows that preventing programs that include families, schools, local communities, and the media have been highly effective in reducing substance use and abuse. This reinforces the suggestion that substance abuse is greatly influenced by attitudes towards addiction at peer-level. In other words, if drugs are openly portrayed as the damaging substances they are, it is less likely young people will turn to them as a form of recreational pursuit.
Points to Remember
- Substance use disorder is a chronic disease that’s characterized by compulsive drug-seeking.
- Drugs cause changes in the brain to create their euphoric effects which can be damaging to the user over time.
- Addiction is a relapsing illness, which is why it’s always recommended to attend a drug addiction treatment center.
- Individuals may start to use substances to self-medicate the symptoms of an existing mental illness.
- Conversely, people can develop the symptoms of a mental illness as a direct consequence of substance abuse.
- There is no single factor to predict if a person will develop substance use disorder or addiction. However, the more risk factors they have, the higher the chances.
- Substance use disorder can be treated and successfully managed for many years in recovery.
- Drug use and addiction can be prevented with the help of teachers, parents and healthcare providers who all have a crucial role in educating on the dangers of substance abuse.