Substance abuse used to be thought of as a “class” disease, that it only happened to poor people from poor or disadvantaged families and if you were from the middle or upper class, you didn’t experience substance abuse or addiction. We now know that is farthest from the truth and reality, that people from all walks of life, including doctors, lawyers, teachers, and police officers suffer from substance abuse and addiction issues.
According to the 2016 report from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 20.1 million people aged 12 or older in the United States had a substance abuse disorder last year.
Worldwide, the figures of those who suffer from addiction or substance abuse are even higher. This year, including the United States, The World Health Organization briefed members with their finding that approximately 255 million people use drugs. 12 million of those people are injecting drugs, and 29.5 of them suffer from addiction or other abuse issues related to their drug use.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine reports that drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States – 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. Opioid addiction is in epidemic mode – 20,101 prescription overdose deaths and 12,990 deaths due to heroin overdose.
We don’t live our lives believing that addiction can happen to us, in fact, the opposite is usually true. We adamantly insist that it won’t happen to us because we wouldn’t risk it, we value our lives and our loved ones more than that, we have dreams and goals. But it happens to the best of people, intelligent people, kind people, professional people, and for a multitude of reasons as varied as the people who become addicted or are unable to cope with their drug use.
Would you know how to recognize the signs that your loved one or a friend might be struggling with substance abuse and addiction? There are many signs that can indicate a behavior due to drug abuse. You know your loved one best, you know their personality, their habits, their physical nature and how they interact socially and interpersonally.
Here are eight important signs that someone you know and love might be struggling.
Change In Mood/Personality – Are they usually happy-go-lucky and they now are irritable, displaying signs of depression or apathy? Do they suddenly have outbursts of exploding anger? Has their sleep pattern changed, do they sleep all day or not at all? Were they always quiet yet are now hyperactive and unable to calm themselves when asked? Have they withdrawn from family and friends or shut themselves off from others?
Change In Personal Hygiene – Have they always taken care or pride in their appearance but have now stopped bathing or grooming themselves? Do they wear inappropriate clothing for the climate such as covering themselves in dark heavy clothing during hot summer months? Have they stopped brushing their hair or keeping their nails groomed?
Skin And Body Changes – Have you noticed an abrupt weight loss or weight gain that resembles bloating? Do they have unexplained bruising, frequent infections, or unexplained marks or sores on their skin?
Change Of Friends – Have they suddenly abandoned long-term friends or other good friends and have started to hang out with people you’ve never met or who seem questionable to you? Have they withdrawn from social media or in-person communication with friends? Are they avoiding certain people or do they display a lack of desire to be with friends they once had regular contact with?
Financial Problems – Have you caught them stealing or someone else suspects they’ve stolen something? Are you experiencing unexplained missing money or other items? Are they always asking to borrow money or have others told you they are owed money by your loved one?
Involvement In Criminal Activity – Have they suddenly been staying away from home for long periods or are sneaking out of the house late at night? Have they become involved with known criminals or those you suspect are? Have they been arrested?
Being Secretive Or Evasive – Have they once been open and communicative with you but now don’t want to talk at length or answer questions on how they are, what they are doing or what their simple short-term plans are? Have you caught them in lies or feel that what they are saying doesn’t ring true or make sense?
Loss Of Interest And/Or Depression – Were they once involved in family, school, church or other activities but have abruptly lost desire to be involved? Do they sleep a lot or seem “too quiet” and it is not their regular nature? Have they lost their appetite or suddenly appear to have gained a large one? Do they cry a lot or appear sad, lost or lethargic?
While in young adults and teens some of these signs may be normal signs of puberty and hormonal fluctuation, anyabrupt change or difference in a loved one’s appearance, behavior or general sense of well-being, should always be a red flag and cause for concern. Children as young as ten have become addicted to heroin, cocaine, and prescription drugs. It is an epidemic in the United States which shows no sign of abating. It can happen to the brightest and most promising children and adults worldwide. If you notice any of these worrisome signs, don’t wait, consult your medical professional, a substance abuse and recovery clinic or anyone you trust who is able to assist you through the steps of getting help for your loved one.