HELPING AN ADDICT
In a 2016 report published by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 28.6 million Americans over the age of 12 admit using drugs, an amount equal to 1 out of every 10 Americans. Just admitting that you have used a drug does not necessarily make a person an addict. Unfortunately, some drugs are so powerful that one use is all it takes for the body to form a craving for the substance.
Sometimes unusual behavior is what leads people to believe their loved one is dealing with an addiction. Individuals may suddenly be more willing to do dangerous things, seem sneaky or in denial, or they may have drastic mood swings. Some psychological changes that indicate a drug addiction are:
- Unexplained paranoia and/or anxiety
- Becoming withdrawn
- Mood swings and changes in attitude
- Personality changes
- Lack of motivation and attention
Additionally, physical changes are extremely in individuals dealing with an addiction problem. Some physical signs that may indicate an addiction are:
- An unkempt appearance
- Unusual body odors
- Bloodshot eyes
- Problems sleeping/insomnia
- A lack of physical coordination
- A sudden change in weight
- Irregular pupil size
- Slurring words when speaking
Witnessing a friend or family member deal with an addiction is one of the saddest and most helpless things a person can go through. Although we wish our loved ones would get the help they need, we cannot force them to do so. An addict cannot truly be helped unless they are willing to get the help they need for themselves.
There are certain things that can be done in wake of discovering a loved one’s addiction. First, it is extremely important to take care of yourself. Family members and friends of addicts can develop symptoms of their own simply by dealing with another person’s addiction. These include depression, anxiety, digestive problems, and even headaches. It is not easy to live with an addict, and your body can react to it poorly.
Make sure you and other non-using family members are safe. Consider getting help for yourself to restore a sense of stability. When you are better able to handle the crisis you are dealing with, you have a better chance of influencing someone else to do so. After you are in a sound state of mind, you may want to discuss what is going on with the addict. This can seem terrifying to some, but it is a big step toward helping them. There are a few steps you can follow to initiate the conversation.
- Make sure neither you nor the addict is under the influence of any substances. This includes drugs or alcohol. Both individuals have to be in a clear state of mind to avoid angry outbursts or acts of violence.
- Choose a time that works for both of you. You want to make sure you will have more than a few minutes alone. Explain to the friend or family member how much they mean to you and slowly explain that you have been observing their behavior and it worries you. Tell them exactly what you are seeing and that you are worried they have a drug or alcohol problem. Do not try to be judgmental – be open. Allow the individual to talk.
- If they deny that they are using, ask to speak to them in the future again. Continue to observe their behavior, but do not act angry or confrontational. Consider suggesting to your loved one to call a counselor.
At Asana Recovery, we speak with an individual’s every day about their addiction. We provide guidance to help become clean and offer programs that work. If you or a loved one is dealing with an addiction, please call us at (949) 438-4504 for ways you can help.