The holiday season brings about opportunities to spend time with friends and family that we may not get to see throughout the rest of the year. It's a great opportunity to catch up with those we love. While the holiday season tends to be lighthearted and festive, it is also important to make sure people are happy and healthy.
Learning to recognize the signs of drug abuse in a loved one has become a necessary survival skill, especially now. With the unpredictable and highly potent substances available on the street, catching drug abuse quickly just might mean the difference between life and death.
Whether you are a parent, spouse, sibling, or friend, trust your instincts. If you have a feeling that something is not right, start asking questions. It’s better to speak up than regret having been silent later on. We all want to think the best of those we love, but don’t let that stop you from intervening when your gut says you should.
When people suffer from addiction, those they love feel devastated and powerless to help them.
This is why, as a friend or family member of someone with an addiction, accepting that you cannot help on your own is the first step to getting through. After all, addiction requires professional help beyond the capacities of addicts' inner circles of support.
So, before you take action, arm yourself with the knowledge of what you should look for in a loved one that be indicative of them doing drugs.
Changes in appearance
If your loved one’s appearance becomes disheveled, dirty and unhygienic, that’s cause for concern. Look out for red, watery eyes and unusual odors. Substance abuse often causes people to neglect their physical needs, as the craving for drugs or alcohol becomes paramount.
If your loved one starts becoming secretive or evasive, that could be indicative of substance abuse. Also, increased mood swings can be the result of drug abuse. If these personality changes are also leading to relationship issues such as fights with their partner or family members, colleagues or friends, this could be cause for concern.
Has your loved one lost interest in the things that they used to enjoy? Drug addiction consumes a large part of a person’s life, which in turn gives them little time to continue activities they used to enjoy. Have they started to neglect responsibilities both at work and home? These signs could point to more than just discontent.
Things you should do
Keep an open mind: It is important for you to be able to talk in a clear, open, non-judgmental way when discussing addiction with loved ones who are struggling with it. Be encouraging and supportive without taking the recovery process upon yourself. Remember, recovery is only possible when it's the addict's choice, no matter how much you want to step in.
Talk and listen: One of the best things you can do after finding out about a loved one's addiction is to talk it through. By talking about it, listening to your loved one and getting educated, you'll be helping and also taking care of yourself.
Educate yourself: Getting educated about addiction will help you better understand your loved one's actions, triggers, and what kinds of boundaries to set in your relationship. Seek and insist on professional help for your loved one and yourself, if necessary. Do not allow yourself to be abused or manipulated, and don't assume that all is well once rehab is completed. Be loving but firm.
Niznik Behavioral Health understands the challenge of watching a friend, family member or loved one struggle with addiction. We are here to help.
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