Did you know that 1 in 10 people have most likely used illicit drugs (cocaine, heroin, crystal meth) in the past month? According to a 2016 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), that’s 28.6 million Americans, aged 12 and older. These numbers show that drug abuse continues to be a major concern in the United States.

Drug abuse, an umbrella term, has different meanings depending on the type of substance. These meanings range from using illicit drugs and prescriptions excessively to taking over-the-counter cold medicine to get high. Even one use counts as drug abuse.

Most drug addictions begin with just one experimental use in a social situation. Unfortunately, this could lead to more frequent use. Some drugs have a higher risk than others for developing dependency. Drug addiction can vary from individual to individual, even family member to family member, depending on the substance. However, there are indicators you can watch out for if you suspect someone close to you is abusing.

Signs of drug abuse in your family

  • Money, jewelry, or electronics are missing. If you’ve discovered that any of these items have disappeared, it might suggest they were sold to support a drug addiction.
  • Loved ones always asking for money. Sudden requests for money without explanation is a major red flag. People spend large amounts of money on drugs, usually draining their bank accounts. They need a constant cash flow to continue their addiction.
  • Legal issues. This is very common. Drug users may end up being caught buying or possessing illegal drugs, stealing to support their addiction, driving while under the influence, and more.
  • Loss of job. Drug dependence can lead to absenteeism and bad performance at work, resulting in unemployment.
  • Missed school. Frequently missing school, a disinterest in school activities, and grade decline could indicate drug abuse.
  • Car accidents. Someone addicted to drugs is more likely to drive under the influence, which can lead to an accident.
  • Change in physical appearance. People using drugs often show signs in their body. For example, people using marijuana may gain weight, while those using stimulants lose weight. Any significant weight change could point toward abuse. Drug abusers could also have pale skin and dark circles under their eyes.
  • Wearing long sleeve shirts on really hot days. Abusers usually try to hide signs of their addiction through concealment like wearing sunglasses and long sleeves. This is because drugs that are taken intravenously leave behind bruising and needle marks, especially on arms.

Anyone, despite age, economic status, and sex, can become addicted to drugs. However, there are certain factors that can increase the likelihood of drug abuse.

Risk factors

  • Family history. If you have a blood relative with an addiction, you’re more susceptible to develop one too as it likely involves a genetic predisposition.
  • Being male. Men are more likely to become addicted to drugs compared to women. However, women can progress faster with addiction disorders.
  • Lack of family involvement. Difficult situations, no parental supervision, and limited bond with family members can increase the risk of drug addiction.
  • Mental health disorders. Drug dependency can stem from other disorders like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic-stress disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Drugs can be a way to cope with these conditions.

Drug addiction can be especially hard on family members. That’s why it’s important to spot the signs of abuse and risk factors as early as possible. That way, your loved one can get the best treatment plan for his/her unique situation from caring professionals.

If you have any questions, please call us at Center For Healing 888–500–9279.

Erica Franco Mortimer, MA, LPC, LCADC
Founder and CEO
Center for Healing
Evan Berk Erica is a licensed therapist with over twenty-years experience in mental health. Erica offers practical and straight forward advice to those struggling with addiction and their families. Having deep insight and understanding of addiction, Erica is able to offer guidance to those looking to regain control of their lives.

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