Drug abuse can be a painful experience—for the person who has the problem, and for family and friends who may feel helpless in the face of the disease. Certain drugs can change the structure and inner workings of the brain. With repeated use, they affect a person’s self-control and interfere with the ability to resist the urge to take the drug. Not being able to stop taking a drug even though you know it’s harmful is the hallmark of addiction.
A drug doesn’t have to be illegal to cause this effect. People can become addicted to alcohol, nicotine, or even prescription drugs when they use them in ways other than prescribed or use someone else’s prescription.
There are many signs that may indicate a loved one is having a problem with drugs. Review the signs below—if you’re seeing a friend or loved one consistently displaying one or more of these signs, it’s a signal that they may need professional help.
SIGNS TO LOOK FOR
People with drug problems may act differently than they used to. They might:
- spend a lot of time alone
- lose interest in their favorite things
- get messy–for instance, not bathe, change clothes, or brush their teeth
- be really tired and sad
- be very energetic, talk fast, or say things that don’t make sense
- be nervous or cranky (in a bad mood)
- quickly change between feeling bad and feeling good
- sleep at strange hours
- miss important appointments
- have problems at work
- eat a lot more or a lot less than usual