Saturday, April 30, 2011

7 Signs of Drug Abuse

I am not a doctor.  I am not a professional substance abuse counselor.  I would love to add substance abuse counseling to my existing repertoire but I strongly disagree with the philosophy of almost all the current programs and certification courses that are out there. I am researching courses that I feel comfortable with so I can help others.  I have worked with recovering alcoholics and drug addicts in my nutritional practice. I've taught them about certain foods they can eat to reduce cravings,  how to change the way they think about themselves, and to briefly address why they turned to dangerous substances in the first place. Drug and alcohol abuse is like over eating.  They are substitutes used to fill an empty void.

My passion has always been to help others overcome their issues with food but now I also have a burning desire to help others who struggle with  other "addictions" as well. It's personal and my life is taking a different course as a result.  I have been thrown right into the "thick-of-it".  A loved one of mine is being held captive by drugs right now and they are destroying his life.  I am stunned and literally scared to death.  The shock of it is: I did not know. Now that I do know, it all makes sense. There were signs along the way.  I just didn't pay attention.

I would like to share with you some early warning signs of drug abuse. They might seem justifiable and easy to dismiss.  You might think your overactive imagination is just working over-time.  Hopefully, that's exactly what's happening.  But these are signs you should never ignore because they could help identify a serious problem that can be intercepted or prevented before it gets completely out of control. 

First you must abandon the idea that it can't possibly happen anyone you know or love. Not my child, my wife, my parents, my best friend! Substance abuse can take hold of anyone.  Drugs are so easy to obtain.  They are everywhere. Pain meds are handed out like candy which makes it even easier. The most upstanding, most successful person you know can be addicted to drugs.

Hear me now! I know what I am talking about......

Signs of Drug Abuse:

1. Seclusion.  The once extroverted, active, crowd-loving person you knew suddenly prefers to be by themselves.  They hide away in their room, their house, or their own little world and demand to be left alone. They don't to want go anywhere or do anything. They decline invitation after invitation. They are like hermits. This is the number one sign that something is seriously wrong.

2.  Excessive sleeping or insomnia. Either one of these symptoms could be a sign of abuse.  If your loved one usually is not much of a sleeper and now seems to be sleeping all the time, nodding off at the dinner table, or falling asleep on the job, do not ignore it.  Do not blame it on the fact that he is working too hard or under stress. It is not normal.  Same goes for the person who is suddenly able to survive on 2 -3 hours of sleep a night.  Also, the up all night, sleep all day routine: unless he works the midnight shift--Not normal!

3.  Lack of funds.  This person, despite the fact that he earns a good salary, never seems to have any money.  He is constantly borrowing a few dollars here and there from you or other people.  "I just need a few bucks to hold me over 'til payday!". If this is happening often, find out where his money going.  If he isn't playing the stock market, doesn't have a mortgage payment, a new car, or some recent tragedy or financial difficulty that has drained him dry of funds, chances are his money is being spent on drugs.

4.  Excessive mood swings.  One day he is happy and the next he is in a dark pit of depression. Once a peaceful loving person, now he is prone to outbursts of anger or acts of violence.  Or, the opposite.  Once out-going and out-spoken--now he is ambivalent and nothing seems to phase or bother him at all.  Again, these are signs of possible drug abuse.

5. Unexplained aches and pains. Backaches, headaches, and muscle pains from a hard day's work, a new exercise program, or the flu are normal.  Aches and pains for no reason are not.  These could be symptoms of withdrawal when he or she is not able to get a fix.

6.  Excuses, Excuses, Excuses!  He or she has is a stupid reason for everything.  This person dodges family gatherings, holidays, or other events.  He constantly calls at the last minute with lame excuses as to why he cannot be there.  He takes days off from work, oversleeps, and misses appointments. He blames it on the job, the girlfriend, car trouble or something else that just doesn't seem to make sense. Even worse, he doesn't bother to call at all. Once in awhile, is okay. Life gets in the way. Our cell phones break, we forget to set our alarm clocks, miss an appointment now and then, or we are called into work on a day off. If these unfortunate events, forgetfulness and mishaps are happening all the time- it is a sign. Take notice.  

7.  He disappears from the face of the earth.  You call, you text, you drop by the house and this person is MIA.  He fails to respond to your attempts to contact him.  He magically appears weeks later saying that he never got one text or call from you or he insists that he did respond and something is wrong with your phone.  He cannot account for any of his time or tell you where he has been or what he's been doing over the past few days.  Unless he has been on cruise around the world, there is never a reason for someone to drop out of sight without warning or communication. It could mean he was off getting high for days on end.  Don't write it off and don't let it go.

Don't ignore these signs! 

If you notice any or all of these signs, please, please, take time to question, investigate, and get to the heart of the issue before it is too late.  Hopefully, he or she is just going through a little mid-life crisis, has a minor health issue that can be helped by a doctor or is really, truly working too hard and needs to take a break.  But you owe it to the person you care about and to yourself to find out for certain.

Even if they deny it, or are insulted and angry with you for even thinking such an awful thing, keep pushing, asking and investigating anyway. Continue to do so until you get to the heart of the matter.

If you do suspect or identify a drug problem, get help immediately. Do not take no for answer. Chances are, if they are terribly addicted, they will not be willing to get help YET.  Continue to love and support them without enabling them to continue on their path of destruction.

Enabling is simply this: making them comfortable so they continue their habit.  Bad idea and destructive in the long run!

You must be tough and stay tough, even if it means they have to lose everything and hit "rock bottom". This is the most painful thing in the world to witness, especially when it is someone you care about. If you are aware of the signs in advance, hopefully you will be able to get them help before they lose everything, and quite possibly, their life.

I do hope and pray that drug abuse never consumes you or anyone you care about. If it does, there is help. There is a hot-line you can call 24/7- 7 days a week. They can assist you, suggest rehab and recovery programs, and answer any questions you have. If you suspect a problem, visit this site and call them immediately:

Drug Addiction Hot Line

And this is my Daily Cyn.........

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with being observant of warning signs of drug abuse, but some people also need to be aware that some of the signs you mentioned could also be caused by clinical depression, which is also a disorder that requires immediate intervention. It can kill you. Thx for writing this Cyn, and I hope it helps people to understand both drug and alcohol abuse, and possibly, depression.