Warning Signs Of Drug Abuse And Addiction

“Addiction is an illness that has a strong behavioral component,” explains David Sack, MD, board certified in Addiction Medicine and Addiction Psychiatry. “Those who are susceptible to addiction experience drugs and alcohol in a very different way than average people.”

Here are some signs on people using the “common” drugs:

Marijuana: Bloodshot eyes, talking loudly, weight gain or loss, inapt laughter and then sleepiness, and loss of motivation

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Stimulants: Dilated pupils, hyperactivity, irritability, paranoia, excessive talking then excessive sleeping, depression, long period of not sleeping or eating, weight loss, and dry mouth and nose.

Inhalants: Watery eyes, damaged vision and thinking, secretions from the nose or rashes around the nose and mouth, headaches and nausea, looking intoxicated, sleepiness, uncoordinated muscle control, appetite change, anxiety, irritability, and aerosol cans in the garbage.

Hallucinogens: Dilated pupils, paranoia, aggression, hallucinations, mood swings, being detached, speech impediments or tremors, and confusion.

Heroin: Contracted pupils that don’t respond to needle marks, sweating, unusual sleeping pattern, twitching, coughing, vomiting, sniffing, and loss of appetite.

Warning Signs Of Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse has been gaining notoriety especially ones involving opioid painkillers and sedatives. What starts as an intake for medical problems like for painkillers turns into abuse over time as they increase the dosage to achieve pain relief to the point of having withdrawal symptoms. An early warning sign is using up the medication faster than expected.

To avoid this, only take medication as prescribed and use the dosage recommended by the doctor. Recognizing the problem early on can help prevent addiction.

Physical Signs Of Prescription Drug Abuse

Opioid painkillers: Drooping eyes with thin pupils even in dim light, sudden itching, slurred speech, sleepiness, lethargy, difficulty concentrating, work or school performance decrease, and neglect of social relationships.

Anti-anxiety medications, sedatives, and hypnotics: Contracted pupils, slurred talk, difficulty concentrating, poor judgment, sleepiness, and slowed breathing.

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What To Do When A Loved One Has A Drug Problem

Speak up. Lend an ear and support your loved one without judgment. Try to do it as early as possible.

Take care of yourself. When helping others, don’t let it consume you to the point that it’s affecting you negatively.

Avoid self-blame. You can give all the help in the world, but if your loved one doesn’t want to change, you can’t force the person. Accept that it’s out of your control and their responsibility now.

Avoid Doing These Things Concerning A Drug-Addicted Loved One

  • Punish or threaten the person
  • Appeal to their emotions and be a martyr
  • Excuse their behavior
  • Let them not have responsibilities
  • Hide or remove the drugs
  • Fight when they’re high
  • Use drugs with them
  • Feel guilty

What If The Drug Issue Is With A Teenager?

“If you are beginning to have concerns about your child’s well-being, you may begin to imagine that substance use, abuse, or addiction are a part of the problem,” says Suzanne Degges-White, Ph.D. She wrote, “…what you hope is a “one-time fluke” may very well be a “fluke” only in that this is the tip of the iceberg and the first time a pattern of risky choices has been exposed.” You might feel afraid if you find out your teen is using drugs, but you should remain calm when talking to them.

Warning Signs Of Teen Drug Abuse

Drug abuse in teens can also happen with prescription drugs like painkillers just like with adults, and these are easier for them to get. Simply using drugs won’t lead to abuse but it can cause vulnerability to it especially when going under emotionally stressful situations like divorce.

Here are some red flags for your teen:

  • Using eye drops to hide bloodshot eyes
  • The decline in school performance and attendance
  • Loss of medications or money
  • Unusual detachment and behavior
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Suspicious behavior about the peer group
  • Hiding new hobbies or interests
  • Sneaking around and wanting more privacy

7 Steps Parents Can Take Concerning Their Teenager Using Drugs

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  • Tell your kids about the effects of illegal and prescription drug use. Make sure they’re aware and build an environment wherein they would want to talk. “The right answer is to help individuals with the underlying problems for their addiction instead of blaming or shaming them,” notes Adi Jaffe, Ph.D. “No one ever says “I want to be a drug addict when I grow up” and, if we truly want to stop the downward spiral we’re on, we need to help those who end up there with support.”
  • Make your teen understand that there would be consequences to using drugs and make sure to enforce it.
  • Check their behavior and activity like knowing their friends or the possible places that they can hide the drugs or buy it.
  • Hide the prescription medicines from them in a safe place and monitor the amount.
  • Engage them in other healthy hobbies and social activities
  • Talk to them and see if there are underlying problems like emotionally stressing events like divorce.
  • They might rebel against you, but they might listen more to other people like their therapist or coach.

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