Addiction and the New Year: Recognizing the Signs

In Maine, over the last 10-15 years, the rising tide of prescription painkillers abuse and other opiates based drugs (legal and illegal) has reached epidemic proportions. The abuse of alcohol and other addictive drugs like marijuana/synthetic cannabinoids, cocaine/crack, benzodiazepines, and methamphetamine also remain widespread.

As our families come together over the holiday season and we transition into the new year, it is important for us to all be aware that the devasting disease of addiction can impact all areas of an individual’s life, causing problems with family, friendships, work, school, finances, legal issues, along with physical and psychological health.

Addiction and its ripples effect cause destruction not only in the individual who abuses substances but in the lives of loved ones as well. These loved ones often experience unhealthy stress, anxiety, depression, physical sickness, and an overall diminished ability to do their best work or enjoy activities.

Warning Signs of Drug Abuse/Addiction:

  • Intense cravings or urges for the drug (mental and physical)
  • Compulsion to use the drug frequently (several times a day to several times a week)
  • Increased tolerance to the drug
  • Irresponsible spending of money
  • Failing to meet obligations and responsibilities, and/or cutting back on social/recreational activities
  • Violating historic morals and values to hide use or by doing things to get the drug that you normally wouldn’t do (stealing, cheating, manipulating)
  • Increased risk taking behaviors
  • Continuing to use despite wanting and trying to stop
  • Experiencing psychological and/or physical withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop taking the drug

Recognizing drug Abuse/Addiction in family members, friends, and co-workers:

  • Problems at work or home – frequently missing work, increased isolation, increased irritability
  • Physical health issues – lack of energy and motivation
  • Neglected appearance – lack of interest in clothing, grooming
  • Changes in behavior – exaggerated/argumentative efforts to hide or minimize use from family members, being secretive, distancing from family and friends
  • Changes in relationship with money – irresponsible spending of money, requests for money without a reasonable explanation, stealing money and valuables from others.

Help is Available:

If you or someone you know, needs assistance with addiction:

 

Author: Brian Dineen, LCPC, LADC, CCS, Outpatient Therapy Program Supervisor, Health Affiliates Maine

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