Drug Abuse Symptoms
For starters let’s ask a simple question—What is drug abuse?
Simply stated, drug abuse is using a drug for something other than its intended purpose.
If a prescription calls for the patient to take one every four hours and the patient takes two instead, that’s drug abuse.
If a person has one drink too many, that’s drug abuse.
We don’t mean to split hairs here, but you can see that sometimes there can be a fine line between legitimate use and abuse.
It’s also important to understand that not everybody who abuses a drug is going to become and addict.
One and ten get addicted
For example, studies have shown that with prolonged use, approximately one in nine people who use alcohol will become an alcoholic. About one in four users of the illicit drug cocaine will become addicted. The most widely abused drug is alcohol, which is sold everywhere, is perfectly legal and is probably the most destructive of any drug of abuse.
Marijuana would be the next in line, only it is not a legal drug.
Looking at the broad picture of both legal and illegal drugs, drug abuse is an enormous social and legal problem in the United States and around the world.
They loose control
If a person is addicted to a drug, that state in which he/she no longer has any control or choice in whether or not to use, where they have developed a psychological and physiological dependence on the substance, it is much easier to tell what is going on. Their life is out of control, they have lost their job, or they have serious troubles with their personal relationships, or they have developed health problems. It is obvious that something is wrong. But if a person is abusing a drug and not an addict, that is much more difficult to detect. Let’s see if we can break it down. People often like to gather after work for a couple of drinks, to relax and enjoy each other’s company. It might be at a local watering hole, or tailgating at the baseball game. Having drinks is a better way to describe drug abuse, because it illustrates the problem with going over the line. In the case of an illicit drug, that is automatically drug abuse and a crime.
They gather for drinks, only they don’t stop at one or two.That becomes three or four. According to the experts, if a man exceeds 15 drinks per week, that’s abuse. You can see that drug abuse symptoms are subtle.
The problem of painLet’s look at another example. A person has a pain issue from a knee injury and the doctor has prescribed an opioid analgesic for the control of moderate pain. The medication works well, but the person figures if one pill is good then two must be better. It begins. Before long they are taking more than the prescribed amount and more often than directed.
This kind of drug abuse is very common.Left unchecked the person is likely to develop some kind of dependence. The opioid works on the brain and so over time the brain actually thinks it needs the drug to function. The injury may have long since healed and the doctor has no medical motivation to write another script, but the patient’s drug abuse has led to the early stages of addiction. The symptoms may be subtle at first and hard to detect. If it feels good do, is a bad idea
Still another example is the person tries cocaine at a party.They enjoy the high and so they want to repeat the experience. They tried it at a party, so they try it again the following week. As we stated, this is drug abuse. Cocaine is an illicit street drug, sold for recreational purposes. In this case drug abuse symptoms might just be that the person is beginning to use frequently.
You might notice that they have a runny nose, because the cocaine, when snorted, impacts the mucus membranes and causes irritation.You can also tell they have been using because they might be full of energy and have this sense of euphoria they didn’t have before. Their heart rate might be increased and their pupils might be constricted. Drug abuse symptoms can be hard to detect. As a person begins to advance from abuse to addiction, the symptoms become more apparent. The use of the drug is getting in the way and you really start to notice this. The user who is slipping into addiction has no such concern. They think they are in control and can handle it. This is a lie.
Teens lose interest in almost everything
They will be the last person in the room to see that there is a serious problem at hand.So when you see that the drug is getting in the way of everyday life, that’s a good indicator. Teenagers who drink or smoke marijuana may begin to withdraw or lose interest in school.
Their grades might slip, or they might not hang out with their friends.They may get in with a whole new group, based on their drug activity. Parents need to be especially vigilant for drug abuse symptoms. The grades might slip and they lose interest in hobbies, sports and family activities. They sleep too much, or they are losing weight. They become irritable and withdrawn. These are all signs.
Mood change can be importantDrug abuse symptoms can include something as small as a change in mood, which can be difficult to detect because teenagers are often moody. It might be easier to see it in an adult. Do they miss work or school? There might also be other health issues to consider, such as a respiratory problem of some kind, more frequent colds, or a loss of overall vitality and fitness. A few years ago this writer worked in an intensive care unit or a large urban hospital.
Of the cases in that unit, 75% of them had a direct drug and alcohol component.That is, three quarters of the patients abused drugs. That’s a huge percentage, but it illustrates how common drug abuse is and why picking up symptoms is so important. Some people mask their drug use better than others, but if you are aware you should be able to detect drug abuse symptoms. We have functioning alcoholics and drug addicts who can get by for a long period of time without anyone being wise to it. For friends and family, noticing subtle changes can be an indicator.
Being observant for drug abuse symptoms can sometimes save someone’s life, to catch the problem before the abuse turns into addiction.It is better to speak up and share your observation than to ignore it and hope what you saw will go away. An assessment by a qualified professional person is always the best, so do not be afraid to contact a local drug treatment center for counsel. It might just save a life.
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- Matthew 7:7-8
Step 3 may be the most difficult and important of the steps in the program, what is it and why is it needed, this week on Recovery Now!