Drug and alcohol addiction knows no boundaries.
It doesn’t matter if you are 17 or 60, misusing controlled substances is a way of coping with a larger situation or problem that typically includes grief, anxiety, pain, or depression. Each person’s experience with addiction differs, but most typically include a group of physical, emotional, and behavioral signs and symptoms.
If you know a person with a substance abuse issue, understand that treatment is an option. At Great Oaks Recovery Center, we not only treat the symptoms of the addiction, but also the whole person. Our goal is to not only get you sober, but also to offer solutions and support for a renewed life.
To know if you or your loved one has an addiction, it’s best to understand exactly what the condition entails. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), addiction is a chronic brain disorder that affects its reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these areas can lead to social, psychological, and biological manifestations that are further pronounced in a person who pathologically seeks relief or rewards by using drugs or alcohol, or through other compulsive behaviors such as gambling.
Addiction is further characterized by the inability to abstain, control behavior, and recognize significant problems with interpersonal relationships, emotional responses, and other behaviors. Addiction typically involves cycles of remission and relapse and, without treatment or recovery, can progress into a disability or even death.
Substance abuse issues usually start off as being recreational, where you may only drink or use drugs in a social or public setting. However, as it progresses, the frequency of that type of behavior, as well as the cravings and withdrawal symptoms, also increase. Sure, it may be easier to brush it off, but if you suspect a loved one has a drug or alcohol addiction, you will see some or all of these specific physical, behavioral, and emotional signs:
- Being overactive or underactive
- Hiding illegal narcotics or drug paraphernalia
- Having dilated pupils and red eyes
- Complaining about doctors who won’t write prescriptions for them
- Taking more than the required prescribed medication
- Missing work and/or school
- Repetitive speech patterns
- Excessive runny nose or sniffing
- Weight loss
- Unusual body odors
- Financial difficulties
- Trouble with relationships
There are other generalized warning signs loved ones must be alert to as well:
- Changes in appetite or sleep patterns that cannot be linked to any other illness or condition. This includes sleeping or eating less or more than normal and at odd times of the day.
- Increase in the number of falls or missteps. If you have ruled out balance issues related to any medical issue, then consider it may be something else causing the falls.
- Consistently changing doctors or having several physicians as a way of getting multiple prescriptions.
- Getting prescriptions filled at numerous pharmacies.
- An onset of agitation or irritability. While this can be a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in older adults, it is also a sign of misusing drugs or alcohol.
- Periods of confusion may be a sign of memory loss issue, but they can also be something more.
- Lack of interest in social activities and hobbies.
While people struggle with addiction, they often deny that they even have a problem. Others may be reluctant to enter a treatment program because of the cost, lack of support, or simply fear. However, once they come to terms with or overcome their reservations, they need to know there are options available. The range of care your loved one receives with a tailored treatment program and follow-up options is critical to success.