Drug Addiction - Awareness and Support
An addiction to drugs affects not only the addict, but also close friends and family who have to interact with the person. Often the cause of an addiction may not be something directly noticeable or known about the individual; it may have started out as curiosity, but it can be linked to a bad period in their life, caused by stress, or even caused simply by excessive peer pressure. In 2010 approximately 23.1 million Americans had an addiction problem, but only an estimated 2.6 million of them received help. One of the hardest parts of getting an addict help is proving to them that the help is necessary, and that they will not be alone during their rehabilitation.
Recognising an Addiction Problem
Drug addiction will often cause the person with the problem numerous symptoms that they will attempt to ignore, or may not even acknowledge, including both physical and mental changes. Although the changes an addict experiences vary with type of drug used, people who are having a problem with an addiction can often begin to act strangely around close members of friends and family that they would usually interact well with, or they may even withdraw completely. Initially this may not cause alarm, but if it continues for long periods of time it is understandable to begin to worry. It is also one of the first signs that a person may have a drug problem, as it is one of the first noticeable non-physical signs for people interacting with the addict.
Mental or Behavioural Changes
Aside from withdrawing from communication with people around them, people suffering from an addiction may demonstrate severe mood swings; acting happy and carefree one moment, then instantly becoming moody and aggressive the next. This can be further enhanced by the fact the person may become careless about their appearance and uninterested in hobbies he or she was previously more involved with. Another telling factor can be a near complete reversal of sleep schedule; sleeping during the day and spending the whole night awake is often common.
There are fewer physical changes that are common between drug types, but there are still some which can be observed, including a level of redness or glassy appearance of the affected person's eyes. Another symptom, although much harder to notice due to the other factors that could be causing it, is a constantly running nose or irritated nasal passage. This may be something that is noticed after weeks of the symptoms being present, rather than quickly.
Helping an Addict
It is important to always remember that any age of person can become affected by drug addiction – in 2010 there was a reported 3 million new illicit drug users, 57% were under 18. Attempt to concentrate on helping the addict overcome the problem, rather than becoming flustered or angry. Keeping the fact they need help against their addiction as the central focus point, attempt to gather more trusted friends and family of the affected individual together to ensure they have support and understanding wherever they turn. An intervention is one of the best options to take when attempting to help, however it is a delicate matter, as the addict must feel comfortable enough to stay and listen.
Staging an Intervention
An intervention must be approached with the utmost care; it must be carefully planned and executed and should only be attended by close relatives or friends who can be trusted completely, it is not the number of people present that matters, but the relationship of the affected individual with the people involved. If help is needed planning an intervention, there are many places to turn for advice, such as intervention counsellors who will walk the attendees of the intervention through what they can expect and what could happen. It is important to ensure the intervention is mostly led by someone who the affected person respects, so as they feel safe and are more likely to listen and respond well. This means the leading individual must be willing to know the basics of drug rehabilitation and be prepared to help the addict through the stages to come; being their support and helping hand if and when it is needed. During an intervention, attempt to reach the cause or reason for the addiction, if it is linked to a particular event or traumatic experience it may be useful information to know during the rehabilitation, as the individual will be struggling with cravings and may be unwilling or unable to communicate easily to explain. This allows them to get all the help they need during this process. Another important factor which should be remembered is the importance of ensuring the person affected starts rehabilitation at the earliest stage possible after the intervention; immediately if possible, before the shock and knowledge gained from the intervention is overcome by the drug habit.
While it is easy to assume a person is weak because of an addiction, this is not close to the truth; people become addicted to numerous different substances for many reasons. The best course of action is to remain a pillar of support for them during their hardship, and to ensure they know help is available should they ever require it.
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