By You or Someone You Know?
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- Is there an 'addict' in your life?
- Are there 'addictions' in your own life?
- Do you have a ‘gut feeling’ that something is just ‘not right’ about a loved one or friend? Are you worried they might be an ‘addict’??
DEFINITION OF AN ‘ADDICT’:
- Someone who is addicted (as to a drug)
- (1) to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or excessively
- (2) to cause (a person) to become physiologically dependent upon a drug , substance, or behavior
- (3) a loss of control over the use of a substance or behavior, a compulsive use or compulsion, a continued use despite consequences
|DISCLAIMER: I’m not a licensed therapist or medical professional, but our family has dealt with some addiction issues as our redheads were growing up and with their friends, and perhaps these tips might help. This is for information only and not intended as medical advice, so educate yourself and seek help from a trained professional.|
OKAY, ADDICTION TO WHAT?
Illegal drugs, alcohol, prescription medications, sex, food, tobacco, marijuana, pornography, steroids, gambling, computer use, exercising, watching certain TV shows, video games, shopping, pain, cutting oneself, etc.
HOW DO ADDICTIONS START?
Like most things, it starts slowly, casually, social use of a drug or alcohol or behavior -- just a one-time event and that’s it. But then for some people the substance or behavior happens again, becomes more frequent, it feels good and the need increases. Stopping causes intense cravings (and even physically ill for substance abuse) and there’s a compulsion to continue. Attempts to stop fail.
For substances like drugs, alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, certain foods, you make sure you have a supply of the ‘drug’ and you spend money on it even if can’t afford it. You do things you wouldn’t normally do to obtain it. You need it to deal with your problems. You do risky activities when under the drug’s influence. More time and energy and money is focused on the drug/behavior and using it.
-- FOR TEENS:
Teen drug abuse happen for various reasons: social acceptance, low self-esteem, depression, self-doubt, insecurity, social rejection, need for social acceptance by friends, living in the moment and not thinking about consequences, feeling invincible, substance abuse in the family or among friends, anger and aggressive behavior, no parental supervision, lack of money/poverty, easy availability of drugs.
-- TEEN DRUG ABUSE PREVENTION:
Ask your teen's views. - Listen to your teen's opinions (which might differ from your own) and questions about drug use. Encourage them to talk by asking open-ended questions, such as "Tell me what you think about ... ."
Discuss reasons not to abuse drugs. - Avoid scare tactics. Emphasize how drugs can affect things important to your teen -- such as sports, driving, health and appearance. Explain that even teens can develop a drug problem.
Consider media messages. - Some television programs, movies, Web sites or songs glamorize or trivialize drug use. Talk about what your teen has seen or heard.
Be ready to discuss your own drug use. - Think ahead about how you'll respond if your teen asks about your own drug use. If you chose not to use drugs, explain why. If you did use drugs, share what the experience taught you.Remove temptations in the home. - Curious, bored, or depressed teens can find expired or partially used medications around the house such as old prescription pain medicine, sedatives, and cough and cold prescriptions. Dispose of and remove old medications from household medicine cabinets to remove temptations. Poison Control Centers get thousands of calls yearly about teens abusing drugs found in medicine cabinets!Plan specific ways to resist peer pressure. - Brainstorm with your teen about how to respond to offers of drugs. Suggest your teen try saying, "No thanks" or "I don't do drugs because it could get me kicked off the team." Your teen also might offer friends a socially acceptable alternative activity, such as watching a movie.
POSSIBLE SIGNS OF ADDICTION:
(Note: These could also have other causes!)
- General Appearance changes: sudden weight loss or weight gain, decreased interest in personal hygiene, dirty clothing, and other subtle changes not normal for them, just not caring about their appearance anymore.
- Mental changes: persistent sadness/depression, hopelessness, unstable mood, delusions, paranoid about people, hallucinations, anxiety, guilt, fear, shame, humiliation, feeling a failure or rejected, memory problems, irritability, impaired judgement, exaggerated euphoria, lack of inhibition.
- Behavior changes: decreased success at school and/or work, relationship problems, unusual unexplained health problems, more-than-normal doctor office visits and emergency room visits, violent behavior. If in school, begin missing school and have dropping grades, plus loss of interest in school activities or old friends; secretive about new friends.
Excessive need for privacy and change in relationships with family members and friends. Participating in risky behaviors and/or unsafe sex. Stealing money or household items that may have been taken to support the habit. Lying about where they've been and with whom, sneaking in and out, secretive phone calls, refusing to communicate.
- Physical changes: eyes are reddened, enlarged or pinpoint pupils, bad breathe from the smell of marijuana or alcohol, needle marks, cutting marks, skin infections or burns, bruises, cuts, nosebleeds and/or sinus issues, muscle cramps, sleepiness or sleeplessness, fatigue and loss of energy, coordination changes, appetite changes, slurred speech or rapid speech, blood pressure changes, respiratory changes, tremors, unsteady gait or clumsiness.
|SEEK EMERGENCY HELP if:|
- you or someone you know has taken a drug and may have overdosed
- loses consciousness
- has trouble breathing
- has seizures
- has signs of a heart attack such as chest pain or pressure,
- or has any other troublesome physical or psychological reaction to use of the drug.
SO, DO YOU HAVE AN ADDICT IN YOUR LIFE?
- Be on the lookout for mental, behavioral, and physical signs of addiction.
- Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right, ask about it.
- Make sure your friend or loved one actually has a substance problem BEFORE taking any action.
- Focus on the addict’s behavior rather than the diagnosis.
- Concentrate on getting help for the addict, not 'catching' him/her.
- Strive to be gentle and insightful, not dramatic.
- Address the BIG problems first.
EXPRESS CONCERN in a constructive way. Trust your ‘gut feeling’ if things don’t seem right with your friend or family member. There’s no ‘right’ way, but often the most successful way of approaching friends or loved ones about addiction is to lovingly express your worries and also your love and positive feelings for that person. This just might help an addict start thinking about their actions and need for treatment.
STAGING AN INTERVENTION (Tips from the Mayo Clinic)
"Because many drug users deny they have a problem, they won't seek help on their own. Family members, friends or co-workers may need to persuade the user to seek treatment. If you have a friend or family member with a drug problem who won't get help, you may need to take steps to organize a planned intervention."
"An intervention is a carefully planned process in which family and friends, teachers, clergy members or others join together to confront someone about the consequences of addiction, and ask him or her to accept a treatment plan. A successful intervention involves careful planning, research and teamwork. If you think you need to set up an intervention, learn how to do it correctly. A carefully organized intervention can be very successful, but a poorly planned confrontation can make the situation worse."
WHERE TO FIND HELP
Possible resources I’ve come across that might help you get started are listed below. Educate yourself, check them out, and it’s up to you to choose which resource fits your specific situation. Also check local listings in your area for professionals who specialize in treating addictions.
- Alcoholics Anonymous(www.alcoholics-anonymous.org OR www.aa.org)
- Al-Anon/Alateen Family Groups (www.al-anon-alateen.org)
- Adult Children of Alcoholics (www.adultchildren.org)
- Betel (Christian residential centers for those dealing with addictions) (www.betel.org)
- Chemically Dependent Anonymous (www.cdaweb.org)
- Cocaine Anonymous (www.ca.org)
- Families Anonymous (www.familiesanonymous.org)
- Marijuana Anonymous (www.marijuana-anonymous.org)
- Mayo Clinic, Chemical Dependency Treatment Options (http://www.mayoclinic.org/chemical-dependency/)
- National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) (www.naatp.org)
- National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC) (www.inhalants.org)
- Smart Recovery (www.smartrecovery.org)
- Teen Challenge
-- USA SITE: (http://teenchallengeusa.com/)
-- EUROPE SITE: (http://www.teenchallenge.info/html/index.html)
(SOURCES: Mayo Clinic, Wikipedia, 'Helping The Addict You Love' by L.M. Westreich, M.D., personal experiences, and various articles )
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