Addiction is an actual disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use. And even though the user knows that their addiction is causing problems to their health and relationships, they are not able to control their behavior.
Drug use, in the beginning, is often a conscious and voluntary decision for most people. However, repeated use causes changes to their brain which affects the person’s ability to resist the drug. This is what leads to addiction. Addiction affects individuals from all walks of life, and thus, a person’s socioeconomic, religious, or cultural status does not discriminate them from getting addicted to substances.
The following article will discuss how addiction occurs, how to tell if a loved is abusing drugs, and the steps you can take to help them overcome their addiction.
How Does Addiction Occur?
Most substances usually have an effect on the brain’s ‘reward circuit.’ They work by triggering the brain to release dopamine – a chemical messenger that causes euphoria. Dopamine is a ‘feel good’ hormone that is often released when we are having fun or taking on pleasurable activities. This causes us to want to repeat those behaviors or activities so that we can experience the thrill. It is the reason why some people participate in extreme sports such as Motocross, as the activity floods their bodies with chemicals that make them feel happy such as dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin. Often, those athletes experience withdrawal symptoms when they are not participating in those activities.
Unfortunately, drugs work in the same way. They cause surges of dopamine in the body. This causes the individual to want to experience the feeling again, thus reinforcing the behavior. However, as the individual continues to use the drug, their brain begins hindering the ability of the cells in their reward circuit to respond to the drug. This is what is referred to as tolerance. As their tolerance increases, the user will need to consume more of the drug to experience the same high. Subsequently, they soon start abusing the drug and become addicted.
How to Tell If Your Loved One is Abusing Drugs
Drug abuse usually manifests itself in both physical and behavioral symptoms. While the exact symptoms will vary from drug to drug, the following are the most prevalent physical symptoms of drug abuse:
- Glazed or Bloodshot eyes
- Sudden weight changes
- Constricted or dilated pupils
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
With behavioral symptoms, the following are the most common signs:
- Aggression or irritability
- A sudden change of habits
- Changes in their attitude and personality
- Engaging in crime
- A sudden change of friends or networks
What You Can Do If Your Loved One is Addicted
Unfortunately, most families usually turn a blind eye to an addict’s behavior with the hope that the individual will eventually see sense. However, an addict rarely sees the fault in their actions as they are usually in denial. As such, if you are looking to help a loved one with an addiction, consider the following approaches:
Reaching out to the person to offer them your help is not easy, as they might not see your logic, especially if they are high. Thus, try and catch them while they are sober so that you can have a sincere discussion.
2. Explain How You Feel
When talking to an addicted loved one, it is important that you express your love and worry for them. As such, use phrases like ‘I’m worried’ or ‘I noticed’ when explaining facts about their behavior. Be careful to not attack them, but instead, their behavior. For instance, rather than saying “You drink too much”, say: “yesterday you were speeding and driving on the wrong side of the road, and it really frightened me”. This way, the individual will see the error in their actions rather than feeling attacked.
3. Explain to Them That They Have an Illness
Your addicted loved one might not know that their drug use is actually a disease. Explain to them that their drug problem is an actual disease that affects their brain and that it is not a lack of willpower or moral weakness. Explain that the illness is progressive and that it could lead to a fatal outcome if not addressed.
4. Explain that Treatment is Available
Emphasize to your loved one that drug addiction help is available and that there is a good deal of scientific evidence that it works.
5. Consider a Group Intervention
When looking to help a loved one, you should leave no stone unturned. If they are still stubborn, consider bringing in their friends and family to confront them. However, ensure that it is done with compassion and not blame. Have each member explain how much the individual means to them and how the addict’s behavior when high affects them.
Don’t Wait for Tomorrow, It May Not Come. Get Your Loved One Help Today
Drug addiction help is available to people suffering from all kinds of addictions. Treatment is usually individualized for the specific individual as everyone has different needs. Treatment normally involves both physical and behavioral therapy. Physical therapy aims to nullify the effects of the drugs on their system, while behavioral therapy aims to change the negative attitudes that lead to drug use. While there are both inpatient and outpatient programs, inpatient programs have a higher success rate as the individual is in a controlled environment.
Do you have an addicted loved one that you want to help? Ritz Point Recovery is a luxury addiction treatment center serving the people of Laguna Hills, California. Our inpatient facility is equipped to handle all kinds of cases. Our aim is to not only help your loved one recover from the effects of their addiction but to also set them on a path that reduces their chance of a relapse. Contact us for further information.