Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse
Substance abuse is a serious issue and can have grave consequences when not addressed. Simply, someone has a substance abuse issue when they use, or overuse, psychoactive substances such as alcohol, recreational drugs, or prescription drugs. These drugs can have serious side effects, especially when not used properly or overused. Addicts lose control of their relationships, their work, and sometimes even lose their lives, so it’s important to act fast when faced with a substance abuse issue.
Substance abuse can start out in a seemingly harmless fashion – an extra drink of alcohol or a few pills to ease the pain. It can start by taking drugs to help focus for an exam or relax after the work is done. Some people start taking drugs to make them feel cool or to deal with complex issues at home. Whatever the cause is, the person continues to take the drug, sometimes increasing the amount or adding a new drug to the mix until their problems go from small to large.
How to Spot Substance Abuse
If you believe someone you love is having substance abuse issues, the first thing you should do is learn how to spot the problem. The signs can vary depending on the type of substance, but there are a few common signs that tell you things are not as they should be.
- Blackout and Memory Loss: This generally occurs after drinking too much and results in not remembering what happened while intoxicated. If excessive alcohol or drugs are consumed, the person can black out completely and get themselves killed.
- Violent Outbursts: When someone starts engaging in violent fights with family and friends, it may be a sign of depression, mood swings, and addiction.
- Unnatural Relaxation: On the other end, when someone is unnaturally relaxed in what is normally a tense situation or they’re not contributing in their normal way, appearing to be zoned out instead, it can also be a sign of addiction. This relaxation can lead to skipping school or work, sleeping too much, and generally shirking responsibilities.
- Change in Personality: Both with violent outbursts and unnatural relaxation, you’re seeing a drastic change in someone’s normal behavior. These changes are pronounced to the people who love them. Some substances can even change someone’s appearance (and not for the better), yet people will continue to abuse until steps are taken to get treatment.
- Preoccupation: Addicts often get preoccupied with when they’re going to get their next drink or their next fix of their drug of choice. Often, they are unable to control their behavior.
- Physical Symptoms: Often, drugs can cause our bodies to react in different ways, from pupils that are over dilated to increased heart rate to unusual nosebleeds. Pay attention to these symptoms to understand a pattern of behavior.
- Withdrawal Symptoms: If someone has been abusing a drug or alcohol and is trying to treat themselves, you may notice increased anxiety, sickness, trembling, and even blood in their vomit. Withdrawal can be painful and harmful; it is wise to seek medical intervention immediately.
How Friends and Family Can Help
Families can be key to identifying substance-abuse problems and helping their loved ones find the right treatment and stay on track. Family members need to remember that their own physical and mental health can be key to helping their loved one recover.
- Learn About Addiction: There are lots of resources available online, in bookstores, and in the library to teach families how to spot, handle, and treat addiction. There’s scientific research about how drugs work and what can be done to reverse the damage, and this same science can help explain how and why people become addicted.
- Create Dialogue: When you first talk to your loved one about substance abuse, focus on listening to what they are saying. Even if they initially deny the problem, they may still drop hits about what might be causing the issue. Show that you are willing to listen and take the time necessary to understand and relate to them.
- Find a Support Group: Just as there are support groups for people struggling with addiction, there is support for family members. These groups can help you address issues of failure, trust, and frustration in an effective manner.
- Try Family Therapy: Family therapy can provide the tools and setting for family members to learn how to communicate effectively and listen to what others are saying. They can also learn how to help the addict deal with triggers in their daily life that are causing the issues.
- Spend Time as a Family: This can seem silly, especially as everyone is hurrying about, but sitting down together and eating is a chance to provide support to every member of the family. Reconnecting, sharing, and spending time together builds on work done in family therapy, which makes everyone feel like they’re an important part of the whole.
- Set Expectations: While entering treatment is a positive first step, it’s only the first step. Family members need to understand that their work will continue even when the addict returns from their treatment and that aftercare is important to the overall success of the treatment.
- Take Care of Yourself: You can’t help someone else if you have your own physical or mental health issues. Exercise, eat nutritious meals, and find your own joy in life so that you can help set a good example for your loved one.
Choosing the Right Treatment and Rehabilitation Center
Once there’s a commitment to seek treatment, the next step is deciding the best direction to go from the options available. You may want to start by seeing a doctor or a mental health counselor, or it may make sense to find a rehab facility and start the detox process.
When you feel good and your body is healthy, it’s less likely that you’ll want to screw it up with drugs.
In the most severe cases, the patient may need medical attention immediately either in the form of a hospital or the detox services of a treatment center. Other special needs such as a handicap or dietary restrictions may require additional considerations. Families also need to consider their financial situation and whether their insurance will cover the cost of a treatment program. We can’t answer those questions without your input, but we can help you find the best treatment situation.
You may need to know if they offer inpatient detox, the specific types of programs and therapies they offer, and whether they will accept your insurance. Once you’ve found a facility that offers the specific combination of services and amenities required, but before the treatment begins, make sure you know what the average length of stay at the facility is and how long the patient is expected to stay. You will also want to know what the cost of the treatment is and how family members can be involved.
Then, there are questions you want to ask around licensing, making sure the staff members are certified, the facility is accredited, if they’re licensed to deal with the specific situation, the patient-to-staff ratio, and how long they’ve been in business. You also want to know if there’s a waiting list and how long it is, how they differentiate themselves from other facilities, what their treatment philosophy is, and how they follow up with patients to prevent relapse.
Location is also a big consideration. While it may seem that closer to home is better, in general, getting away from stressors and bad influences to put normal life on hold can help get people in the right mind-set to make a change. This is true for those who can put their lives on pause and work remotely. Other individuals with children or other family to care for may opt for treatment closer to home.
Choosing the right treatment center from the multitude of options can seem daunting, so it is helpful to have someone guide you through the process thoroughly and quickly so that the patient can be assured of starting the right program for them. Whether they need to start with an intense medically supervised detox or go into individual counseling and other kinds of behavioral therapies, there’s a treatment center that can work for them. Fighting through detoxification, withdrawal, and initial cravings can be easier when removed from the home and with the support of trained professionals.
What to Expect at a Rehabilitation Center
Once you’ve chosen a rehab center and arrived, they’ll start by helping you through the withdrawal process. This can take hours or days, depending on the substance you’re addicted to and how much you’re taking. You may simply be asked to go cold and not take any more, but in many cases, you’ll start weaning off the substance. In some cases, you’ll switch to a different, less harmful drug and then start weaning slowly off that instead. If necessary, you’ll have medical supervision and around-the-clock care as your body detoxes.
After you’ve finished detoxing, you’ll start counseling to help you handle withdrawal and cravings. This is often based around a 12-step program. You’ll stay in the center anywhere from a few days to 12 months (depending on your addiction and personality), and get the structure and support from the community and staff the entire time you’re in residence. You may also be prescribed medicine to help you handle your cravings and side effects, and be monitored while on that medication. You are also likely to participate in individual and group therapy along with other treatments designed to help you learn to take better care of yourself mentally and physically. Counselors will address any underlying causes of the addiction and help you make a plan to deal with those issues when you return back to normal life.
Depending on the facility you choose, you may find that additional options are offered including access to gyms and personal trainers to help you get your fitness on the right track, and nutritionists to help you learn how to eat healthy. When you feel good and your body is healthy, it’s less likely that you’ll want to screw it up with drugs.
Once you leave the rehab facility, your treatment isn’t over. You’ll go into an aftercare program that is designed just for you to help prevent a relapse. After all, once you’ve gone through the detoxification and withdrawal process and learned how to live a healthy lifestyle, you want to make sure the positive changes stick.
How to Afford a Trip to a Rehabilitation Center
This may sound like a lot of treatment and a huge expense. Depending on the facility, it very well could be. However, in many situations, insurance will cover or subsidize your treatment. Rehab-Finder.Org can look at your insurance plan and discover which treatment options are covered, fully or partially, by your insurance, and then help you determine which one of those options best fits in with your treatment plan. From there, you can start doing your research about the facility’s accreditation, what types of amenities or other treatments they offer, and what therapies you want to take part in. Again, Rehab-Finder.Org is here to help you streamline this process and help you collect the information you need to make the best decision for you.
Learn more about paying for rehab.
Attending a treatment facility can be the first step towards a new, healthy life and a positive perspective. While you’re in the treatment, take the time to think about what you truly want out of life, both personally and professionally. One advantage of many treatment programs is that you’re far away from the stressors of your normal life and can take the time to truly think about your goals. As you come off the substance abuse, you will be clear-headed and able to think about things you may have avoided in the past. While we can’t promise you’ll find your life’s purpose, we know that going to treatment will help you get back on track to being healthier and happier.
When you’re ready to make the commitment, or if you are seeking advice to help a loved one, give us a call at 877-251-4813 to learn what options are available.