Currently in the United States, more than 21 million people are in clinical need of substance abuse treatment. Day-in and day-out, more than 21 million Americans wake to a battle against compulsive cravings, undeniable drug dependence, binge drinking, and the chronic disease of addiction. One of these millions may be your loved one – a friend, a family member, a child or young adult who needs treatment. Perhaps it is you who is caught amidst the addiction cycle, trying to break out.
There is no doubt that substance abuse and addiction are present all around us – on the streets, in our schools, and even in our homes. Yet despite the immensity of this epidemic, the majority of afflicted individuals (about 92 percent) never get the help they need. This is largely because substance use disorders are not always easy to detect. What looks like recreational drug use could actually be a deeper set addiction. What appears to be innocent experimentation among teens may be telling of an early substance abuse disorder.
If you believe that your loved one is addicted to drugs, it is important to look beyond the surface when it comes to their substance abuse. It is critical to monitor their actions, make note of their behaviors, and keep tabs on their physical and emotional health. Know what a substance use disorder is, how it can affect a user, and which symptoms may indicate it is time to intervene.
As an integrated substance abuse treatment center in Connecticut, Turnbridge can help. Every day, we help teens and young adults overcome substance use disorders. Every day, we educate parents and concerned loved ones on the many, potential substance abuse disorder symptoms and treatment options for young users. With this article, we hope to do the same for you.
Generally speaking, substance use disorders are caused by the repetitive use of drugs and/or alcohol and lead to clinically significant impairment or distress in a user. They are classified as either mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the number of symptoms that exist in an individual. These substance abuse disorder symptoms are seen as diagnostic criteria, and reveal the degree of a user’s addiction.
According to clinical professionals, two or more substance abuse disorder symptoms within a 12-month period can indicate a need for professional treatment. If your loved one is exhibiting two or more of the following symptoms, it is likely that long-term, integrated addiction treatment is needed:
- Increased dosages. Your loved one is now taking the drug in larger amounts than before. This is likely because he or she has developed a tolerance to the drug, and believes that more is needed to feel the effects.
- Using for a prolonged period of time. The drug is being used over a longer period than was intended. This is particularly common with prescription painkiller drugs, as users often get addicted to their legal prescriptions and prolong use beyond what their doctor prescribed.
- Too much time has been lost to drugs. Typically, users with a substance use disorder will invest a great amount of time into drug-seeking and using activities: obtaining the substance, using the substance, and recovering from its effects. And repeat.
- Too many priorities have been pushed to the wayside. Your loved one’s recurrent drug use has replaced once meaningful priorities such as school, work, and home obligations. Even once-loved recreational activities have been given up or reduced because of his or her substance use.
- Important relationships have also fell off. You may have noticed your loved one’s friendships have dissipated. He or she may no longer want to spend time with old friends, and has since shifted to a new, less familiar social circle. Maybe even your own relationship has taken a toll due to your loved one’s drug use.
- Relentless cravings. Addiction often bears uncontrollable cravings and strong urges to use a drug of choice.
- Failed attempts to quit. Your loved one has a persistent desire to stop taking drugs, and has even made efforts to cut down or control his or her use. Unfortunately, he or she continues to revert back to the same drug-using habits.
- Risky behaviors are now the norm. Drug use can put users in sketchy and dangerous situations, especially teenagers and young adults who are already prone to risky behaviors. If your loved one has had recent encounters with the law, has driven while intoxicated, or has engaged in violent or threatening activity, it is likely that drugs or alcohol were also involved.
- Your loved one has admitted there is a problem, but continues to use drugs. Substance use disorders affect a user’s brain, and inhibit a person’s self-control and judgement. Even if your loved one has admitted there is a problem, his or her brain may be saying “do not quit.”
- A tolerance has developed. Tolerance means that a user’s body has developed a resistance to a drug: He or she no longer feels the effects of a drug at the normal amount. Over time, he or she has needed to take more of the drug in order to feel its desired effects.
- Withdrawal symptoms are present. Your loved one may be experiencing severe or post-acute withdrawal syndrome, leading to excessive tiredness, physical illness, and constant bodily pain. The only way he or she can relieve these symptoms is to take drugs or drink again.
You have the ability to recognize if a problem is present and when professional help is needed. More than likely, your loved one cannot do this alone. Because of the way addictive substances affect a user’s brain, your loved one may not be able to make rational decisions or control his or her impulses. He or she may not know when or how to stop. You have the power to make a difference, and can start by understanding the many different substance abuse disorder symptoms.
Put your loved one on the path towards recovery. Call Turnbridge at 877-581-1793 to learn more about our substance abuse treatment center for young adults.