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The idea of someone abusing drugs, or knowing a person who does, is a matter most would like to avoid acknowledging – but, it’s a prominent issue in society that matters and needs to be talked about. Over 24.6 million Americans abused drugs in 2013, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health Today, and that number has significantly increased due to the growing ease of accessibility to both illicit and prescriptive drugs, and a spike in mental illness diagnoses over the years. But, rest assured, drug addiction can always be overcome with treatment. If you are someone who is concerned about a person in your life abusing drugs or is showing evidence that they are, you can take action to help by noticing these substance abuse warning signs.

1. Loved one’s personality and behavior drastically changes – it’s almost as if they have become a completely different person. Drugs severely damage and affect a person’s mind and body through manipulating their brain’s dopamine “reward system” neurotransmitters. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that reinforces the feelings of a person’s happiness and satisfaction. Substances violently overtake these receptors by manipulating the brain into desiring the euphoric rushes from drugs, which in turn causes the person to act in ways that go against their character if they were abusing the drug or suffering withdrawals from it. Examples include your loved one suddenly lashing out with violent outbursts, instead of calmly collecting their emotions during minor arguments. Additionally, they begin to illustrate a lack of morality when making decisions or suddenly abandon concern for their well-being and safety. These negative changes do not happen instantly, but rather over a period of time. However, once these changes are present, they are impossible to overlook. If you feel their actions have become unsettling, they shouldn’t be ignored.

2. They have become restless, prone to anxiety, and developed insomnia. People fall into insomnia and become restless when they begin to abuse drugs. They may also cultivate an anxious habit like fidgeting, or showcase nervous body language, such as constantly scanning their surroundings or obsessing over their actions. The physical symptoms of abuse are apparent not only in your loved one’s behavior, but their physical appearance; their eyes seem empty or not in the present, their face looks aged and worn-down, or they have gained or lost a tremendous amount of weight. Their personal hygiene habits are also key things to look out for as well.

3. They developed relationships with new, suspicious people. One of the most significant warning signs is your loved one developing new relationships with people who raise red flags. Their presences are uneasy and they all seem to motivate your loved one to make questionable choices, like disappearing without informing you and speak to you condescendingly when asked questions. These individuals also abuse drugs and fuel your loved one’s desire to abuse substances as well.

4. Secrecy and avoidance become a constant element in conversations and interactions. If you are your loved one are truly close, they would never have to hide any part of themselves from you. Secrecy is a dead giveaway to illustrate that something is awry in a person’s life. Even asking the simplest question such as, “where have you been?” can set them off to defend themselves, or make you feel you’re being invasive about their personal life. But in reality, you were just concerned about why they came home so late one evening. Alternatively, you may find that items and money around the house suddenly vanish, or they will constantly ask you for money without giving reason why.

5. You find them selling their treasured possessions and abandoning hobbies. No one wakes up one day and decides to spontaneously sell everything they love. The reason your loved one makes this sacrifice is probably due to the fact they need money to purchase substances. When an individual is addicted, they will do anything to possess the source of their addiction. Beloved hobbies also drastically lose their value and importance, and are now seen as hindrances to your loved one’s time. In addition to that, your loved one may keep selling items in secret to avoid telling you their plans after they money has been earned.

These are just a few of the signs a person shows when abusing drugs. The most important thing to remember is this: never ignore your intuition when something feels amiss. Drug abuse manifests itself in different ways. However, you ultimately can tell when it’s time to have an intervention to help your loved one overcome their addiction.

Contact Creative Counseling Center

If you suspect that a loved one is abusing alcohol or drugs – or if you are battling your own substance abuse demons – please contact Creative Counseling Center. One of our substance abuse counselors can recommend a program of treatment, whether with us or with another drug treatment and rehabilitation program. You are worth saving, and recovery is possible.

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About the Author

trevor mcdonald

Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic whose been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources and addiction awareness. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.