Drug abuse is unfortunately common in the United States.
21 million people aged 12 or above currently battle an untreated substance use disorder.
That’s a scarily high number. The consequences of addiction for individuals, families, and society at large can be profound. A lack of intervention can lead to disaster. Case and point? 100 Americans die of a drug overdose every day.
Clearly, it’s essential to get support as soon as possible. However, effective intervention often begins with insight. It can be hard to know the signs of drug abuse.
Are you worried about a loved one? Are you concerned about your own welfare? It’s time to get educated on the subject.
Read on to discover signs of a developing drug problem.
Keep an Eye out for These 8 Signs of Drug Abuse
The signs of drug abuse can be hard to pick up on. Below we’ll go through exactly what to look out for. Recognize a problem? Seek support. Chateau Recovery is one example of a treatment center that can help.
1. Relationships Breakdown
Drug abuse has a habit of negatively affecting relationships.
The substance itself becomes all consuming. Nothing else matters. Your loved ones may have been your priority before. But the drug is your new obsession.
This inevitably leads to problems in relationships. It’s compounded by drastic changes to emotional states (more on this later). Social situations can become challenging. As the addiction develops, depression and anxiety can fester, and sufferers come to prefer their own company.
A once active social life can be replaced with total solitude.
2. Abandonment of Favored Activities
It’s hard to overstate how all-consuming substance abuse can be.
It can remove all enjoyment from activities you once loved. Drugs become the sole focus.
The lack of desire to partake in activities is compounded by a reduced physical ability to do so. Muscles weaken, lung-capacity dwindles, and focus gets more difficult. Hobbies that once provided great pleasure become challenging and unenjoyable.
3. Severe Mood Changes
Drug abusers can experience extreme mood changes.
Happy, smiley, calm individuals can become prone to anger, depression, and irritability. It’s common for sufferers to be aggressive, demanding, impatient, and accusatory. A shift in mood can occur rapidly, with no trigger required.
This can be a disturbing development for friends and family to witness. It can seem like the entire personality of an individual has altered. An intervention may be necessary.
4. Neglected Responsibilities
Everyone has responsibilities.
Work, family, friends, and hobbies all require a level of commitment. Drug abuse can lead people to neglect them. They may start showing up late for work. They might forget to pick their children up from school. They may bale on a friend’s birthday dinner.
Remember, drugs have a habit of altering priorities.
Remaining able to function at work and home doesn’t mean there’s no problem. People commonly assume things are under control just because they continue to work or remain present for friends and family. Unfortunately, that might not be the case.
5. Physical Changes
Someone hooked on a substance may experience changed in their physical appearance too.
Personal hygiene becomes less important. They may sleep less, and appear disheveled and unkempt. Their eyes may be perpetually bloodshot, they may lose weight, teeth go uncleaned, and clothes may go unwashed.
Looking after yourself becomes less important than the next hit. It’s important not to judge. Keep in mind that drug abusers often endure high levels of shame. Depression, anxiety, and low-mood are common. Sometimes personal hygiene just isn’t a priority.
6. Unable to Stop
A key indicator of addiction is the inability to stop taking the substance.
This is a hard sign to recognize in others. It’s something to keep an eye on in yourself.
Have you ever tried to cut down, or stop, taking a drug and failed? If the answer’s yes, then the takeout message is clear-cut: a problem needs addressing.
That’s hard to acknowledge. It’s easy to find excuses. Maybe you stopped for a short while. A week went by and you convince yourself you aren’t hooked. Then you take another hit.
Don’t beat yourself up. Seek support.
7. Risk-Taking Behavior
People will do ever riskier things to get hold of a drug.
Withdrawal symptoms are no laughing matter. If the addiction is serious enough they can actually kill. It’s no small wonder that someone will go to extreme lengths to indulge their addiction.
The risk-taking effect is two-fold. Firstly, people take risks to get the drugs. Someone might partake in criminal behavior. They might start selling sex for drugs, or stealing. Second, they behave in risky ways under the influence. They may drive too fast, have unprotected sex, or hang out in the wrong neighborhoods.
8. Secrecy and Stashes
Remember the shame we talked about earlier?
Drug abuse is a vicious cycle. You start taking drugs. You get hooked. You feel intense negative emotions. You turn to drugs to ease the pain. You feel worse. You develop dependency. You take more drugs. And the cycle continues.
The negative self-feeling that surrounds addiction drives people to secrecy. They won’t talk about their habit for fear of judgment. Often, that secrecy can turn inwards. Denial is rampant. Substance abuse becomes a secret even to themselves.
To stay undetected, an addict may start hiding small (or large) quantities of a drug.
Finding stashes of drugs in cars, houses, or any unlikely place is a common sign of a problem in a loved one.
Time to Wrap Up
There you have it: 8 signs of drug abuse to look for when you’re worried about a loved one.
Drug addiction is rampant in the United States. Millions of people around the country are living with an untreated disorder. The consequences are no laughing matter. Drug abuse has a major impact on all aspects of life. They often result in death.
That’s why early intervention is key. And that begins with education and early detection of problems. The longer the addiction is in place, the harder it is to treat.
Hopefully, the information above will help you identify potential drug problems and allow you to get support fast.
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