Every year, 17.6 million U.S. adults suffer alcohol abuse or dependence. Although alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in the United States, it’s only one of dozens of drugs that are frequently abused – overall, drug abuse kills more than 200,000 people annually. Many of those people succumb to the effects of abusing prescription drugs they may have a valid prescription for.
How do you know if a loved one is struggling with substance abuse?
Specific symptoms vary based on the substance being misused and the length of time the person has been exposed to it. However, there are enough common symptoms that it may be possible to recognize the warnings and take action to help.
Common signs of drug and alcohol abuse include:
Change in Activities and Interests
People who are abusing drugs may have a sudden lack of time for hobbies or other interests and might withdraw from their social circle. People become isolated during drug addiction because of their desire to keep others from finding out about the problem.
Mood Swings and Erratic Behavior
No matter what type of drug someone is abusing, it has the potential to radically change how they act and relate to others. Angry outbursts, depression, or even manic episodes are possible. Sudden, profound changes in behavior may be ongoing.
Changes in Appearance and Hygiene
Changes in appearance such as bloodshot eyes, sallow skin, or flushing might be directly related to drugs’ activity in the body. On the other hand, a lack of attention to personal hygiene can result as drug users find it difficult to concentrate on grooming or lose interest in it.
Unexplained Financial Problems
Unexplained financial difficulties that arise suddenly and persist for a long time can sometimes indicate spending on a drug or alcohol habit. Those struggling with addiction may develop secretive financial habits to prevent others from becoming suspicious or concerned.
Change in Medical Habits or Providers
Many cases of addiction begin with a valid prescription for painkillers or other temporary medications. Addiction can occur even when a physician’s orders are followed very carefully. Once addicted, a sufferer might overstate his or her original medical complaint to maintain access to the drug or might “doctor shop” in the hopes of getting a new prescription.
What Can You Do to Help Someone Who Has a Drug or Alcohol Problem?
No matter what form it takes, drug and alcohol abuse can be devastating. It’s important to understand that as people struggle with addiction, they need medical help and social support. That said, if a loved one is exhibiting signs of addiction, it’s important to take action in a way that provides for the health and safety of everyone involved.
It may take days, weeks, or even months to notice a pattern of behavior that indicates drug and alcohol abuse. If you feel your loved one is at risk, getting professional help promptly is an essential first step on the road to recovery.
Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through Rockland’s Behavioral Health Response Team (BHRT) at (845) 517-0400 and all services are free and confidential. BHRT provides assistance with emotional distress or trauma, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, mental illness, and substance abuse. The service is operated by Rockland Paramedics and can also provide on-site crisis intervention at your home, school, job place, house of worship or any other location.
Don’t wait, get help; call now to get immediate assistance.