What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Drug Abuse and Addiction?
Drug addiction is something that affects people from all types of backgrounds and statuses. It is a non-discriminatory illness that not only affects the sufferer, but everyone around them. Knowing the signs someone is developing a dependence on drugs can be important in getting them help sooner rather than later.
However, when someone is abusing the most addictive drugs, they don’t advertise the fact. Conversely, they may become withdrawn and hard to reach for close friends and relatives as their dependence deepens into addiction. Concealing drug use is not uncommon, particularly if someone is capable of functioning normally at work or school, which makes it hard to detect when an individual is becoming addicted.
Almost any kind of drug addiction will have noticeable symptoms which can be either physical or behavioral and often both. In this article we identify the signs that someone is abusing drugs and how it is possible to detect when they are out of control and require professional treatment.
The Physical Symptoms of Drug Abuse
Once physical signs of drug abuse are present, it is likely that the person has developed dependence. In the early days of using, they would not necessarily experience withdrawal symptoms of any kind and they would also only require a low dose to achieve a desirable high. The way addiction develops is when a person becomes more immune to the effects of a drug, which leads to them taking more potent doses to get the high their bodies begin to crave. As dependency deepens, the physical symptoms will start to emerge and become noticeable to others.
The changes in appearance that provide clues to someone’s possible drug abuse include:
- Glazed, blood shot eyes
- Large dilated or small constricted pupils
- Sudden weight gain or loss
- Bruising caused by injecting drugs intravenously
- Shaky hands and episodes of sweats
Drugs have a direct effect on a person’s brain which can lead to them developing negative habits and behaviors. When someone is using drugs, their brain’s reward system is flooded with dopamine which is a chemical neurotransmitter that sends signals of euphoria throughout the whole body. This mind altering effect is the main addictive ingredient for drug users and dopamine fuels dependence until the need to use becomes a compulsion.
If drug dependence has developed, it will have started to negatively impact an individual’s personality. They may become unreliable at work or home, snappy and aggressive for no reason or they may become withdrawn as their dependence deepens. The drug they are taking is likely to prevent them from forming clear and positive thought processes as depression is a common side effect of abuse.
The kind of behavioral changes that identify a drug abuse disorder include:
Recognizing the Signs Can Lead to Early Treatment or Prevention
Depending on the level of someone’s drug-taking, the signs and symptoms of them having a problem may be noticeable at an early stage. Drug use is often triggered in the first place by a traumatic event or difficult emotional situation, which others close at hand are in the best position to notice sooner rather than later.
There are a number of factors behind the propensity for developing addiction that families may already be aware of. In many cases, there may be a history of addiction which can lead to other members developing an inherent vulnerability to the disease. If there is a suspicion that a loved one is not coping with something in a healthy way and the signs are quickly recognized, it can be possible to intervene and prevent full-blown addiction from even developing.
Addiction is a family affair and in the same way that everyone is affected in some way, they can collectively combat it by offering support. Many rehab centers provide family therapy to allow loved ones to communicate their thoughts, feelings and fears to their addicted relative and in turn learn to understand the struggle they are facing. Knowing the signs and symptoms of drug abuse allows people to act on their suspicions and seek professional help for a drug addict to overcome the disease.
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