Addiction is a disease, no different that being diabetic of having cancer; however drug addiction is a disease of choice. Addiction to drugs in not a weakness,
it defiantly does not discriminate. People of all ages, classes and ethnic backgrounds can become addicted to drugs. It is known that drug addiction is a
brain disease because the abuse of the drugs affects the functioning structure and the brain. It is difficult for family and friends watch loved ones spiral by making
poor choices; this is why it is most beneficial learning to Understand Addiction and Drug Abuse.
Signs of Drug Abuse
Drug abuse can happen at anytime, to anyone. There are several factors leading up to abusing drugs and each individual is different. Most common signs of abuse are:
1.) They become distant
When people are experimenting with drugs, or even actively using drugs, they become withdrawn, they are suddenly secretive, valuables come up missing, they avoid
eye contact, they are late or missing work/ school, they are asking for money with excuses that don’t add up, they suddenly have a new group of friends that they
associate with. Further addiction of drugs and they are having more interaction with law enforcement; because their addiction is so bad that they commit crime in
order to get their drug of choice. The abuser also looses interest in anything that was once most important to them and they also stop caring for themselves and
lack interest in their physical appearance.
2.) Physical signs of abuse
There are several signs noticeable by general physical appearance, they will have bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils or contracted pupils, they can experience sudden
weight gain/ loss, frequent nosebleeds (snorting drugs), unusual accidents and bruising, caused by bad coordination. Unusual smells on breath or
the body, slurring speech and even shakes, tremors and sudden seizures.
3.) Psychological signs of abuse
Again, these signs are noticed by physical general appearance and include, paranoia or anxiety, sudden mood swings; irritable for no reason, bouts of laughter
at nothing and suddenly angered. They are also withdrawn for normal interests, they’re hyperactive, they appear spaced out; showing a lack of interest, inability to
focus, they appear lethargic. A total change in their personality. Drug abuse is a serious disease and we can try with all our might to help the abuser, however please
know the abuser will not take the offered help seriously, until he/ she is ready to accept that they do have a problem and they are ready to get the help they need.
It is important that we understand why they’ve chosen this path to addiction and what we can do to help them.
Generally people turn to drugs for several reasons that vary from psychological, physical and even social factors; depression, chronic pain or even improper
or undertreated paid, stress, low self esteem, unemployment, relationship issues, financial difficulties etc. the list is endless. As much as we want our loved one
to be safe and live a healthy lifestyle, this just isn’t enough. Recovery from drug addiction is a long process, but it can and does happen. It is important to also
understand that recovery can begin at any point in the addiction process- the earlier the better of course. Naturally, the longer the abuse continues, the stronger
the addiction becomes and the harder it is to treat.
How to Help The Abuser
We are supporters by nature, especially when we see our loved ones in a bad situation; by human nature we want to rescue them. First and most important
what we must not do is enabling. Enabling is helping the abuser weather it is by giving them money, giving them car rides, paying their bills, etc. we cannot
support the abuser. We must be firm, as much as it might hurt to see this person struggle, enabling cannot continue. Enabling allows the disease to progress;
it allows the addiction to continue. Beyond enabling, it is so important that we set healthy boundaries for ourselves and our sanity. Don’t allow yourself to get
caught up in the manipulation of the addict. We also must take necessary time to focus on our own mental health. Addiction affects everyone in the family, take care
of you! What we can do is love them. We can listen without interruption; when the abuser feels comfortable in opening up this leads to open and honest
conversations. We can express our concerns, communicating concerns offers hope; and we do this without judgment. We can be patient, addiction didn’t happen
overnight and neither will the recovery. We most defiantly can suggest help and options available, this reinforces that you care.
What we must not do is judge the abuser. Most addicts are very hard on themselves and feel very low; guilt and shame are common. Do not lecture them.
Addicts are know to shut down immediately when they are being told what they should be doing (they already know) its better to be a listener instead of a talker.
Never ignore them. This is like giving up, they already feel isolated and alone, do not feed these feelings. Never pressure them, you cannot force them to get better;
it must come from within. Pressuring will only push them away. Let them know that you’re trying so hard to understand what is going on, this again reinforces you
care deeply and are willing to do whatever it takes to help them get better.
It all takes time, when they are ready in their heart to make changes and lead a productive life. Addiction is never an easy fix. Recovery involves the whole family.
You can only take it day by day. It is not an easy path, but recovery and sobriety can be achieved. You must remind yourself that you are not responsible for their
choices, you cannot change them; no matter how much you want to. You can hold onto hope that things will get better and in the interim you can continue to set
healthy boundaries for yourself and pray that your loved one makes better choices.