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Seeking Help for Drug Addiction

Drug addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is a chronic and often relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite the harmful consequences.

Navigation: What is Drug Addiction?, How Do You Know if You Need Help for Drug Addiction, Physical Symptoms of Drug Abuse, Behavioral Changes, Neglecting Responsibilities, Drug Tolerance, Drug Dependence, Financial Problems, Common Barriers to Substance Abuse and Addiction Treatment, How to Help Someone Struggling with Drug Addiction, Rehab is Your Best Chance


It’s hard to watch someone you care about deal with a substance use disorder, whether it’s a close friend, a child, a parent, or another family member. Addiction is an overwhelming medical condition that can take over someone’s life.

Addiction can strain your relationships, cause conflicts, and add stress to your life. On top of all that, it can affect the person’s physical and mental health.

Addiction affects not only the addicted individual but also the people around them. It’s easy to feel things like guilt, shame, fear, anger, sadness, and frustration when someone in the family is addicted.

But sometimes, the addicted person doesn’t even realize they have a problem with drugs or alcohol. In fact, denial is common among those who are dealing with addiction. Before they can receive the help that they require, they need to overcome that first obstacle. They need to admit that they have a problem and that they need help.

Recognizing the problem requires an understanding of the signs and symptoms of drug addiction. Here we will discuss drug addiction and how to recognize if you need professional medical care. Let’s take a closer look.


What is Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is a chronic and often relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite the harmful consequences.

There is still a stigma surrounding drug addiction, with many people viewing it as a sign of immorality or weakness. But addiction s in fact a brain disease that alters the way the brain functions, which leads to changes in behavior, judgment, decision-making, and self-control.

People who are addicted to drugs may continue to use them even when they know that doing so can cause significant problems in their lives. They will continue taking drugs or drinking alcohol even when they are already suffering from its adverse effects.

Even mild substance use disorder can cause significant health problems, legal problems, financial difficulties, and relationship problems.

Addiction is characterized by the inability to control your intake. Addicted people also tend to experience intense cravings for their drug of choice. They may even go to great lengths to obtain and use it.

Contrary to popular belief, drug addiction can affect people of any age, gender, or background. You can get addicted whether you are taking illicit drugs or your doctor’s prescription medication.

Treatment for drug addiction typically involves a combination of medications, behavioral therapy, and support from family and friends. But unlike a physical injury, addiction cannot be readily observed. It can be hard for people to even recognize the signs of addiction if they don’t know what to watch out for.

By watching out for the different signs and symptoms, you can identify the problem and encourage your loved one to get the help that they need.


How Do You Know if You Need Help for Drug Addiction

Some people who struggle with addiction are aware of their condition, but they are in denial because they are afraid of how others will respond to it. It’s not surprising given that the stigma surrounding addiction and rehab still exists. Even when people go to rehab, there is still judgment. For example, celebrities are shamed by media outlets for going to rehab even if they just want to get better and treat their condition.

To fight this stigma, education plays a very important role. Understanding addiction and its effects can go a long way, especially if you are trying to support an addicted loved one properly. For example, if they have underlying mental health concerns, family members can help them find a treatment program where they can get support from a mental health professional.

Of course, it’s not your job to diagnose their disorder. After all, drug abuse can manifest in various ways, and the signs can vary depending on the drug being used and the severity of the addiction. It’s just a matter of recognizing the warning signs so you know when to seek treatment.

Physical Symptoms of Drug Abuse

Drug abuse can have a variety of physical symptoms, which can vary depending on the specific drug being used and the amount and frequency of use. These physical health effects are usually the ones that are most obvious, and are probably going to be noticed first.

If you are concerned that a loved one may be abusing a certain drug, here are some common physical symptoms to watch out for: dilated or constricted pupils, muscle tremors, bloodshot eyes, nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, skin problems, and impaired coordination.

Individuals who are regularly taking drugs may experience weight loss and changes in sleeping patterns. Drug abuse can lead to changes in appetite, which can cause sudden weight gain or weight loss. Insomnia is another common symptom because drug abuse tends to disrupt sleep patterns.

They will also experience intense cravings for drugs or alcohol. This may be a sign of addiction.

In some cases, drug abuse can lead to changes in heart rate and blood pressure. It may also cause respiratory problems like shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these physical symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention and professional help for drug abuse.

Behavioral Changes

Aside from these obvious physical health effects, family members may begin to notice some behavioral changes in their loved one as well. This can include sudden mood swings, irritability, aggressiveness, and a lack of motivation or interest in activities they used to enjoy. You may notice that they often go through serious mood shifts from euphoria to agitation to depression or irritability.

Addiction is often marked by the inability to control one’s drug intake. If you are suffering from addiction, you may find yourself using drugs even when you don’t want to. Addicted people are unable to stop even when facing the consequences of their substance abuse.

Addiction can also lead to social isolation. They may start to withdraw from friends and family, isolate themselves, and stop participating in social events. They will lose interest in their old hobbies and passions as well.

Instead, they will spend more time seeking out the drug. They will spend a lot of time and money obtaining drugs even at the cost of their health, work, and relationships. In their constant search for their drug of choice, they may engage in risky behavior such as driving under the influence of drugs or engaging in unprotected sex.

Addiction affects the brain’s ability to make good decisions, so this is not surprising. In fact, the person may even struggle with other mental health disorders like depression and anxiety as they grapple with addiction. Substance use disorders and mental health disorders often co-occur.

It’s important to seek professional help if you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction.

Neglecting Responsibilities

For an addicted person, the substance becomes their top priority, so not only will they lose interest in things they used to enjoy, they will also begin to neglect their responsibilities in favor of the drug.

The addicted individual will lose sight of their priorities, including work, school, and family obligations. They will stop working on their personal and professional goals.

At the same time, there will be a noticeable decline in their work or school performance. If someone suddenly begins to perform poorly at work or school, it could be a sign of drug abuse. They may start to miss work, school or other important appointments. They may also be unable to provide a reasonable explanation for their absence.

When a person becomes addicted to drugs, their primary focus becomes obtaining and using drugs. Every other aspect of their life will begin to take a backseat.

As addiction progresses, they may neglect important tasks such as paying bills, caring for children, or maintaining relationships. In severe cases, drug addiction can lead to job loss, financial problems, and even legal issues. This often leads to an overwhelming situation in which the person continues their downward spiral.

Drug Tolerance

Drug tolerance refers to the body’s decreased response to a drug over time. In other words, as a person uses a drug repeatedly, they may need to use more of the drug to achieve the same effects as they did initially. Tolerance can occur with various drugs, including prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and illicit drugs.

Drug tolerance can develop for several reasons. One reason is that the body may adapt to the drug and become less sensitive to its effects. Another reason is that the body may produce more enzymes that break down the drug, resulting in lower levels of the drug in the body. Tolerance can also develop because the brain may adapt to the drug and become less responsive to its effects.

Tolerance can be dangerous because it can lead to increased drug use, which can increase the risk of overdose and other negative consequences.

If you require more drugs or alcohol to achieve the same effects as before, you may have developed a tolerance, which is a sign of addiction.

Drug Dependence

Drug dependence, also known as substance dependence, is a condition where a person has a physical and/or psychological need to consume a drug or medication to feel normal or function properly.

Although it sounds similar to addiction, dependence is actually a separate thing entirely. Drug dependence is the body’s physical reliance on a particular substance whereas addiction is the compulsive intake of drugs regardless of its effects.

Physical dependence occurs when the body adapts to the presence of a drug. If the drug is suddenly stopped or if the person reduces their intake, they will experience withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms may range from mild to severe. Some drugs produce life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. This is why you should not quit a drug cold turkey. You need proper medical support if you have been abusing a certain drug for a long time. Withdrawal symptoms also vary depending on the substance taken.

Drug dependence can develop with the use of many types of drugs, including prescription medications, such as opioids, benzodiazepines, and stimulants, as well as illegal drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, and marijuana.

If your body has become dependent on drugs or alcohol, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using. Most addicted patients need to go through medical detox to slowly wean their body off of the drug while their withdrawal symptoms are managed by health care professionals.

Financial Problems

Family members and loved ones are also sure to notice the financial impact of addiction on an individual. While some people think addiction treatment is expensive, staying addicted is actually more expensive in the long run. Addicted people often find themselves spending more money on drugs or alcohol than they can afford.

The cost of buying drugs can quickly add up, especially if the addiction becomes severe and requires larger doses or more frequent use.

Because of this, an addicted individual may suddenly experience financial issues, such as having difficulty paying bills, borrowing money frequently, or selling possessions to support their habit.

In addition to the direct cost of drugs, drug addiction can also lead to other financial consequences, such as loss of employment or reduced productivity at work, legal fees and fines related to drug-related offenses, healthcare expenses related to the treatment of addiction and related health problems, and damage to personal relationships.

This even extends into legal problems. People with drug addiction may engage in risky behaviors that can lead to problems with the law, such as driving under the influence, theft, or possession of illegal drugs. This can lead to legal consequences and further financial strain.

It’s safe to say that drug addiction can have a significant impact on an individual’s financial well-being, as well as on the financial stability of their family and loved ones. Seeking treatment for addiction is not only important for physical and mental health but can also help prevent or address financial problems associated with drug use.

Common Barriers to Substance Abuse and Addiction Treatment

Even for those who do recognize their substance abuse problem, they may not readily seek treatment. Here are some of the most common barriers that may prevent individuals from seeking and receiving addiction treatment:

Stigma: The stigma associated with addiction can prevent individuals from seeking treatment due to fear of judgment and discrimination from others.

Lack of Access to Treatment: Many individuals may not have access to addiction treatment due to a lack of resources or availability in their community.

Financial Barriers: The cost of addiction treatment can be a significant barrier for many individuals, especially those without health insurance or limited financial resources.

Fear of Detox and Withdrawal: The fear of going through detox and withdrawal can be a significant barrier to seeking treatment, as these symptoms can be intense and uncomfortable.

Co-occurring Mental Health Disorders: Many individuals with addiction also have co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, which can make it challenging to access and engage in treatment.

Lack of Social Support: Support from family and friends can be crucial to an individual’s recovery, and a lack of social support can make it difficult to engage in treatment and sustain recovery.

Cultural Barriers: Cultural attitudes and beliefs about addiction can create barriers to seeking and engaging in treatment, as some cultures may view addiction as a moral failing rather than a medical condition.

These barriers can vary based on the individual, the type of addiction, and the available resources in their community. It is important to recognize these barriers and work to address them to ensure that individuals have access to the addiction treatment they need to achieve and maintain recovery.

How to Help Someone Struggling with Drug Addiction

Helping someone struggling with drug addiction can be a difficult and complex process, but there are several things you can do to support them in their recovery journey. Educating yourself and learning more about the condition is the first step, and you are on the right track if you are already doing your research.

Learn as much as you can about drug addiction and the treatment options available. This will help you understand what your loved one is going through and how best to support them.

Let your loved one know that you are there for them and that you support their efforts to get better. Offer encouragement and positivity throughout their recovery journey. Do not judge them or offer criticism that will only push them further away.

At the same time, you want to avoid enabling their addictive behaviors. While you want to be supportive, it’s important not to enable your loved one’s addiction. This means not giving them money or making excuses for their behavior.

Instead, you need to encourage your loved one to seek professional help for their addiction. This may include therapy, counseling, or rehab programs. If possible, attend group therapy or family therapy sessions with them to show your support and even gain valuable insight into their recovery journey.

During their stay in rehab, they will learn healthy coping mechanisms that will help them stay sober even after finishing the program. Therapists and counselors will help them understand the root causes of their substance abuse.

Don’t forget to practice self-care. Caring for someone with an addiction can be emotionally draining. Make sure to take care of yourself by seeking support from friends, family, or a therapist.

Recovery is a process, and it may take time for your loved one to overcome their addiction. Be patient, supportive, and encouraging throughout their journey.

Look for an addiction treatment facility near you today if some or all of the signs mentioned above are applicable to you or someone you love. The good news is that there are plenty of treatment programs that can help you recover from your addiction.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) are great resources for all things related to substance use disorders, mental health conditions, and addiction treatment.

The road to recovery begins today. Get started on your journey to sobriety by checking out rehabs near you.

Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.



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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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