Despite the fact that many high profile people and celebrities struggle with drug addiction, there remains a stigma attached to the problem. The addict usually tries to keep the problem hidden, and when a loved one does reach out they’re met with anger. Often this is because of shame. Someone near you could be struggling with drugs, and unless you know what to look for their charade of normalcy could be fooling you as well. The problem is that some people use drugs and don’t become addicted, while others can’t break free. There is no way to predict with certainty who will and who won’t, but here are some known risk factors:
- First used drugs before age 15 – the chances of later addiction multiply when a person is exposed to drugs at an early age
- Presence of mental illness like anxiety or depression – people will attempt to self-medicate away their negative feelings by using drugs
- A family history of drug use and/or addiction – there is a genetic component to some addiction
- History of physical abuse or emotional trauma – drugs are used to numb the persistent pain and shame
- Peers who use drugs.
People struggling with addiction will go to great lengths to hide the problem. However, there are signs that you can watch for:
- Slurred speech
- Reddened or glassy eyes
- Unexplained irritability
- Things disappearing from the home
- Outright stealing
- Appetite and weight changes
- Difficulty sleeping or excessive tiredness
- Lack of coordination
- Can’t seem to maintain focus.
Drug use carries serious dangers such as overdose or death, and additional permanent health risks to themselves or someone else through injury or accident. Extended drug use can also irreparably damage kidneys, can interfere with long-term memory and may inhibit cognition far into the future, even after a person walks away from drug use. Drug addiction happens among people young and old, both sexes and every race and social class. Know the signs and be aware. The sooner you get a loved one help, the better their chances for lasting recovery.