You’ve noticed your partner can’t concentrate when you’re talking to him/her. You start to suspect he may be on drugs. How to help?
Substance abuse can make one irritable, angry, anxious and sometimes depressed. The best way to help someone struggling with substance abuse is to learn the facts. There are a lot of misconceptions about drug abuse and addiction. Many people can’t understand how anyone could become addicted to drugs. It is mistakenly considered a social problem and those addicted are seen as morally weak.
Why do people start taking drugs in the first place? Drugs make people feel good, or make them feel better. Some use drugs to get high or to feel different and others attempt to self-medicate problems. Drugs affect the brain in some of the same ways as natural rewards like eating a good meal or spending time with loved ones—but drugs can be even more potent, and in those who are vulnerable, drug abuse can lead to addiction.
It’s hard to predict whether or not a person will become addicted after starting to use a drug. The factors such as influence of the home environment, friends and acquaintances and the age when drug use begins play a part.
The actual signs of abuse or addiction can vary depending on the person and the drug being abused. Drug abuse can show itself physically—for example, loss of appetite, slurred speech or problems sleeping. It can also cause changes in behaviour, such as a general attitude change, difficulty paying attention or a drop in school grades or work performance.
What can be done
It’s important to realize that drug addiction can be treated. Research has revealed several basic principles that underlie effective drug addiction therapies. No single treatment is appropriate for everyone. The treatment course depends on both the drug and the needs of the individual. The process often begins with detoxification, in which the person is systematically withdrawn from the drug under the care of a physician.
Studies have found that the best way to ensure success is to combine appropriate treatment medications, when available, with behavioural therapy. Behavioural therapy helps people modify their attitudes and behaviours. It teaches them skills for handling stress and the environmental cues that may lead to relapse.
Warning signs of addiction
The symptoms of drug abuse and addiction vary depending on the person and the drug being abused. Look for these warning signs of drug use:
- Difficulty sitting still
- Excessive sweating
- Inability to sleep
- Change in appetite
- Drowsiness and slurred speech
- Chronic cough or worsening of asthmatic conditions, such as wheezing, chest tightness and trouble breathing
- Runny nose, chronic nasal/ sinus problems
- Overall attitude or personality change with no other identifiable cause
- Change in personal grooming habits
- Excessive need for privacy
- Change in friends, hobbies or activities
- Difficulty in paying attention or forgetfulness
- Drop in school grades or work performance
- Chronic dishonesty
- An unexplained need for money
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