Thursday, October 5, 2017

What if my loved one has a drug/alcohol problem?

Drug/alcohol problems are of epidemic proportions in America today.  These substance abuse and dependency issues impact the addict, their entire family, communities and our country in so many ways.

What is Addiction?
Drug/alcohol addiction is the physical and psychological need to continue using a chemical/substance (alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, heroin, etc.,), despite it's dangerous or harmful effects.

Some Common Signs/Symptoms of use, misuse, and addiction: 
  • Cravings
  • Tolerance- takes more of the substance to get the desired effect (high)
  • Dependence
  • Withdrawal symptoms- abruptly quitting or weaning self off causes discomfort and changes
  • Poor judgment
  • Drug seeking behaviors (raiding bathroom cabinet for pills; excessive time/energy finding drugs
  • Financial problems-unable to pay bills due to drug/alcohol use
  • Neglecting responsibilities (work, school, children, etc.,)
  • Unhealthy relationships (with family or friends; conflicts and broken trust)
  • Isolation/alienation from family and/or certain friends
  • Legal problems
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities they once enjoyed
  • Increased agitation or irritability
  • Taking high risks (DUI or unprotected sex)
  • Red eyes, dry mouth, dilated or constricted pupils
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Increased heart rate and/or high blood pressure
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Paranoid thinking
  • Neglect of hygiene and appearance
  • Failed attempts at stopping drug/alcohol use
  • Depression and/or anxiety
What Can You Do?
  • I can be very helpful to research and become knowledgeable on addiction. You cannot do anything about something you don't know about. Learn more about sign, symptoms, types of treatments, and relapse triggers. Additionally, search for treatment agencies as resources.
  • Practice Self-Care- eat a healthy diet, exercise, relax and breathe. Find a trusting friend or family member to talk to.  Attend a support group at church or a 12 Step meeting like Alanon or Naranon. 
  • Contact a Family Therapist, addictions counselor, and/or seek individual counseling.
Addiction didn't happen overnight and it will not change over night either! You cannot change it, cure it, or control it.  Your loved one must get help for themselves.  You don't have to accept behaviors that are dangerous, harmful, or unsafe however, addiction is a family disease and all involved can benefit from supportive counseling and treatment. It takes time!
Submitted by Pamela K. Williams, MS, LCPC

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