Honor National Recovery Month this September by becoming more aware of the symptoms of drug abuse and addiction and ways to prevent them from occurring.
People struggle with addiction for a variety of reasons. Each person is unique. Each case is different. That's why it's important for professionals to understand why addiction occurs and figure out proper treatment methods and ways to prevent relapse. It's necessary for them to understand a patient's full story before putting together a plan to help them overcome their problem.
Remember, the quicker you can identify an addiction, the better. Once you do, obtain advice from professionals on how best to approach the situation with an addict. Then, reach out as soon as possible to the addict before he or she does more damage.
In a previous article we focused on ways you and a professional can prevent someone from becoming addicted to drugs. In this article, we'll focus on symptoms.
1. Physical signs
If abusing drugs, an addict's physical condition will begin to deteriorate. They'll begin to struggle with things they were once able to do. They may also struggle to walk or could have limited hand-eye coordination.
Other signs include bloodshot eyes or pupils that are smaller or larger than normal, frequent nosebleeds, poor or changing appetite, unusual sleep patterns or sudden weight loss or gain.
Some of these symptoms you may notice almost immediately, while others—like weight gain or loss—happen in time.
An addict may also have seizures even if they don't have a history of epilepsy, shake more frequently or get injured and not be able to recall how the incident happened.
2. Behavioral signs
Along with showing drastic changes in physical appearance, an addict will show unusual behavior They may begin to skip work or class, lose interest in extracurricular activities or hobbies or stop going to the gym. You may also notice that, in losing interest in every day activities, they also begin to withdraw from their friends and family. More relationship problems may also rise to the surface.
A drug addict may also get into more trouble, whether that's through physical altercations, arguments or the law.
It's important to remember that someone who portrays one or more of these characteristics isn't necessarily an addict. These are just some of the signs typically displayed. However, if a person does display these symptoms, you should still immediately act.
3. Psychological signs
Our brain is the most complex organ in our body and is responsible for a number of things, including developing our personality to allowing us to enjoy the taste of food. In short, it regulates everything we do in our lives.
Drugs, good or bad, disrupt the communication systems of our brain. Consuming a drug can help relieve pain, but consuming too many drugs, like cocaine, can cause it to send mixed messages. This happens when the drugs activate neurons by mimicking the brain's natural neurotransmitter.
Although the drug imitates the brain's chemicals, they don't activate neurons like a natural transmitter. This causes the brain to send out mixed messages which causes the body to act or feel abnormally, such as hurting themselves or becoming depressed.
Many of the physical and behavioral symptoms we described above happen because of how drugs affect this organ. Symptoms you may notice include a negative shift in personality or attitude, radical mood changes, irritability, angry outbursts or random laughing fits. They may become agitated more easily or experience periods of hyperactivity.
In other cases, the person may also lack motivation or not be able to focus on tasks.
These are just some of the symptoms you should look out for if you suspect a friend or family member is an addict.
4. Drug dependence
Drug abuse involves all of the symptoms described above, but also includes a physical dependence on the substances.
An addict may feel like they always need more of the drug they are currently using to feel the same effects. They will also likely face withdrawal symptoms as the drugs begin to wear off. It's important that an addict receive help immediately before trying to wean themselves off drugs. Often, while going through withdrawal, they could face something as simple as sweating and nausea to symptoms as serious as hallucinations, seizures or fever.
If you know a friend or family member that you believe is becoming or already is an addict, contact Fairwinds Treatment Center. Founded 25 years ago by Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef, Fairwinds Treatment Center specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of alcoholism. Our full-time psychiatrists, nursing professionals and licensed therapists use a dual diagnosis process to treat the disease and address the underlying causes for the disorder. In doing so, they can better ensure patients recover and don't relapse during their recovery.