Drug addiction is a serious chronic illness that involves compulsive behaviors, usually around drugs or alcohol. These behaviors are difficult to control, so people struggling with addiction tend to abuse drugs more and more as the disease progresses. They may start with occasional use because they enjoy it, but soon their brains become dependent on the presence of these substances. Then they need the medicine to feel normal.
At the same time, they develop a tolerance to their original dose, so they can further abuse the drug to get high. This progression of taking higher doses, most often, is a sign of substance abuse. I have worked with many addicts, and I have seen firsthand how drug addiction can affect the whole family. It can be heartbreaking to watch someone you love struggle with addiction and not be able to help them. It's even more heartbreaking to see the effect on the people who are closer to them than I am. Here are seven of the scariest, yet common, behaviors of an addict:
- They may not pay attention to relationships or depend on them for money, drugs, or help to go somewhere to get drugs.
- They may fall out of the wagon and get high again after a period of sobriety.
- They may become clumsy with their drug use.
- They may become isolated from family and friends.
- They may become dishonest and manipulative.
- They may become violent or aggressive.
- They may become financially irresponsible.
Researchers say drug addiction stories portrayed in the media are often from street drug users in poor economic conditions, rather than those in the suburbs who have become addicted to prescription pain medications after battling chronic pain. This stigma can make it difficult for people struggling with addiction to get help. A recent study found that respondents had significantly more negative opinions about people with drug addiction than people with mental illness. The study also found much higher levels of public opposition to policies that could help drug addicts in their recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there is help available. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a National Helpline that provides free referrals and information about treatment options.
SAMHSA also provides resources for families affected by alcohol and drug abuse. Visit their website for more information.