Drugs affect the way a person thinks, feels, behaves and how they look. But substance use disorders are often accompanied by co-occuring mental health disorders like anxiety or depression. Some people may use drugs as a form of self-medication for these issues, while other people may develop a mental health disorder after taking substances. Either way, it’s important to look out for psychological and behavioral changes in friends or loved ones who might be struggling with addiction:
Alcohol is a legal controlled substance that slows down the body’s vital functions when consumed in excess. Its many forms include beer, wine and liquor. Some of the physical effects of heavy alcohol consumption are slurred speech, loss of coordination and slowed reaction time. Psychological effects include inhibiting judgment and lowering a person’s ability to think rationally. Typically, drinking alcohol in moderation does not signify a problem. However, consuming more than four alcoholic beverages per day for men – or more than three per day for women – can indicate an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Checking seven or more boxes from each list indicates that someone you care about is in the later stages of alcoholism. Not only your loved one, but everyone else in your household is at risk of severe harm. Talk with a substance abuse counselor who specializes in intervention about arranging a formal meeting to confront the problem. At this stage, it’s imperative to get your loved one into treatment as soon as possible. Working with an intervention specialist is the most effective way to help you and your family recover your safety, health and sanity.
Pharmaceutical drugs. When it comes to prescription drug abuse and drug addiction, opiate pain medications are the most widely abused. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that in 2012, over 250 million prescriptions were written for analgesics like Vicodin, Norco, and Percocet. At the same time, the CDC estimates that 46 Americans die every day from overdoses on narcotic pain relievers, and that addiction to prescription drugs now surpasses both heroin and cocaine. However, opiates aren’t the only prescription medications that can cause dependence and addiction. Other commonly abused prescription drugs include sedatives in the benzodiazepine family (Valium, Klonopin, Ativan, Xanax), stimulants used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta), and prescription sleeping pills (Ambien, Lunesta).
Substance abuse therapy: Used as a part of many inpatient and outpatient programs, therapy is one of the cornerstones of drug addiction treatment. Individual, group and family therapy help patients and their loved ones understand the nature and causes of addiction. Therapy teaches coping strategies and life skills needed to live a productive, sober life in the community. For individuals with a co-occurring mental illness, intensive psychotherapy can also address psychiatric symptoms and find the underlying issues that contribute to addiction. Inside Shalom House, Australia’s ‘strictest’ drug rehabilitation | Australian Story
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