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Thursday, December 16, 2010

The addict beside you

A Roma woman with her dog in a street of Rome.Image via WikipediaWhen we think of addicts, we tend to visualize some wino on the corner of a street with a brown paper bag in hand, muttering possibly to themselves. Maybe we see in our minds eye a homeless person desperately getting a fix in a back alley somewhere.

What about the addict that is sitting in your living room, watching television? The addict that you have known and loved for years? It is a different picture, but nonetheless, just as accurate as any other image your may have conjured up  in your mind.

Addicts in the family, are often in disguise and under the cloak of your own loving eyes. We tend not to recognize the problem until it is in full swing. We may notice odd things like weight loss, unusual breathing and snoring at night, or unexplained nervous behavior. We as family members or friends, we never make the assumption initially that this person is an addict. Could they be ill? Dying of some horrible disease like cancer? Why do they look so bad? Months may go by, as your concern grows. At some point you may even ask, "are you on drugs?". You are met with a look of disbelief, and a strong "no".

Knowing those ever so subtle symptoms early on is extremely crucial. Of course you could be wrong, however, better to err on the side of caution, then let too much time pass, and allow what may have been a mild problem flourish into a full blown addiction. Depending on the drug, this can happen quickly so time is always of the essence.

Look for these not so well known symptoms: Restlessness, and restless sleeping with disturbed breathing, glassy eyes and large pupils, sweating for no apparent reason, nervousness or paranoia, sleeping often, personality changes, inability to stay in any one area for any length of time, irritability, unreasonable, argumentative, disinterest in things they used to enjoy or care about,lack or concern for personal hygiene, and open sores on the skin or bad complexion, suddenly consuming alcohol on a regular basis, hiding or withdrawing from family,missing money, missed work.

If you know someone that is showing these signs or symptoms of substance abuse seek help immediately. Consult with your family doctor to discuss possible causes, strategies and treatment. Many family doctors know of additional resources and support that you may not have considered. You have to ask for the help first. Arm yourself for the battle if addiction is present. You are in the fight of your life. Gather all available information and get help today, tomorrow may never come. Please see:  Drug Treatment Addressed During National Drug Fact Week .
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