By Peter Kunst
Newgate 180 Addiction Solutions
At Newgate 180, our highly-trained staff help hundreds of people every year reclaim their lives from addiction.
We recognize the signs of addictive behaviour because we have been there and we have seen what addiction and substance abuse can do to a person’s life – both personally and professionally.
But what about people who are not trained to recognize addictive behaviour?
This column is aimed at those who may suspect an employee, a friend or a family member has a problem with drugs, but just isn’t sure. The following paragraphs will outline some of the things to look for and recognize and will provide a way to move forward to get those you know who are struggling with addiction to recapture their lives once and for all.
The most common signs of drug abuse include the neglecting of your responsibilities at school, work, or home and also that you’re using substances under dangerous conditions or taking risks while high, such as driving while under the influence , or having unprotected sex. In addition, you may be a drug abuser if your use is getting you into legal trouble, such as arrests for disorderly conduct, driving under the influence, or stealing to support your usage. Finally, you may be a substance abuser if your use is causing problems in your relationships, such as fights with your partner or family members, an unhappy boss, or the loss of friends.
For those who have progressed beyond substance abuse into full-blown addiction, there are a number of clear signs. Those addicted have usually built up a drug tolerance and need to use more of the drug to experience the same effects achieved with smaller amounts. In addition, addicts take drugs to avoid or relieve withdrawal symptoms. If you go too long without, you experience symptoms such as nausea, restlessness, insomnia, depression, sweating, shaking, and anxiety. In addition, addicts tend to lose control over their use and often use more than they planned, even though they have told themselves they wouldn’t. You may want to stop using, but you feel powerless.
Substance abusers often try to conceal their symptoms and downplay their problem. If you’re worried that a friend or family member, or employee might be abusing drugs, look for the following warning signs, including: bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, sudden weight loss or weight gain and deterioration of physical appearance, personal grooming habits.
There are also behavioural patterns to look for, including: a drop in attendance and performance at work or school, unexplained need for money or financial problems; may borrow or steal to get it. Also, included in this Strategy area are sudden changes in friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies.
Finally, there are several psychological changes that are present with the addict, including: unexplained change in personality or attitude, sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts, periods of unusual hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness and lack of motivation; appears lethargic or “spaced out.”
If the preceding information sounds like you or someone you know, intervention is the first and most important step in helping to break the cycle of drug addiction. That intervention includes finding a program that will offer the addicted individual the help they need in a caring and private setting that treats the underlying issues of addiction to prevent post-treatment relapse.
Next time, we will explore the warning signs of alcohol addiction and discuss various treatment options.
Peter Kunst is the Executive Director of Newgate 180 Addiction Solutions in Merrickville, Ontario. He has been treating those with addiction and substance abuse issues for more than 30 years. Every two months, Mr. Kunst’s column will appear and will tackle a different aspect of addiction and substance abuse programming.
For more information, media may contact:
Newgate 180 Addiction Solutions