What to Do When You Discover Substance Abuse in a Loved One

If you discover that a loved one is suffering from a substance abuse problem, what can you do? The good news is that you have many options as to how you can go about getting your mother, father or sibling the help needed. Read on to learn what these options are and how they can help an addict turn her life around.

Physical Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse

What to Do When You Discover Substance Abuse in a Loved OneThere likely will be some marked physical signs that someone is abusing a substance, such as alcohol, marijuana or heroin. Most notably, she may start to rapidly gain or lose weight. Additionally, you may see signs of jaundice or bloodshot eyes. Bloodshot eyes are especially common for anyone who has just used marijuana or consumed an excessive amount of alcohol.

You may notice that someone who has been abusing prescription drugs has trouble staying awake during the day. It may be difficult for the individual to walk or move around, as the nervous system can easily become disrupted. This may lead to trouble with coordination as well as speaking. If an individual has trouble speaking or remembering things, she may exhibit outward signs of anger, frustration or depression.

An individual who’s using drugs often will have marks or other small wounds on her body. These markings are likely the sight of needle injections. However, it could also be due to physical abuse sustained either during periods of drug use or from confrontations related to the buying or selling of illegal substances. Drug use frequently leads to a life of crime, placing users at much higher risk of sustaining physical injuries.

Behavioral Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse

In addition to the physical signs of substance abuse, it’s possible behavioral changes will occur as well. Those who were once energetic and willing to go out on the town may only want to sleep all day. A father who used to be devoted to spending time with his kids on the weekends may not even come home after work because he’s getting high. Spouses who used to be intimate on a regular basis may be less so because of changes in the body related to the abuse of a particular substance or substances.

You may find that your loved one is sneaking out of the house on a regular basis or is routinely going to the bathroom at night. This could be a sign that your spouse, parent or sibling is abusing a substance. Such behavior indicates that the person is trying to hide substance use from you in a manner she thinks is most discrete. Watch for agitated or nervous behavior either before or after she returns, as she may be paranoid about anyone discovering her activities.

It’s not uncommon for those who are using to experience no setbacks in their lives. They may be able to go to work and interact with family and friends in a relatively normal manner. However, this may only make the problem worse, as such individuals could be less inclined to get the help they need. Unfortunately, the substances can still negatively impact their bodies as well as their behaviors over the long term.

How to Help a Loved One Who Is Abusing Substances

What to Do When You Discover Substance Abuse in a Loved OneIf you have a loved one who’s abusing a substance, it’s important for the individual to receive help as soon as possible. A tactic often used to encourage a person to seek help is an intervention. An intervention involves the entire family and even close friends of the addict getting together to talk with the individual about the issue. It’s wise to engage the help of an interventionist for this approach. This professional can help you prepare to confront the addict about the problem and assist with planning and executing the intervention for the best possible outcome.

Ideally, the substance abuser will acknowledge that she has a serious problem and needs treatment. If not, it may be worthwhile to ask the addict to attend counseling to see if the root of the problem can be discovered. Often times, addicts don’t even remember why they started using and have no idea how to stop. Showing your loved one that it’s okay to admit to the problem, that no one is judging her and that help is available might even lead her to seek rehab on her own.

In the event your loved one experiences a medical emergency, it may be a good idea to take that person straight to a rehab facility after going to the hospital. Sometimes an individual needs to hit rock bottom before wanting to seek help. It’s important to remember that most insurances will cover treatment, and employers may be required to allow employees to take leave if they need to get help.

If you need advice on seeking help for a loved one who’s abusing substances, call the hotline at 800-447-9081. By doing so, you can learn more about rehab options, how to host an intervention and how to cope with your own emotional response to a loved one’s addiction.

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