Addiction is a complex disorder that affects millions of people worldwide, including India. Addiction is a chronic multi factorial disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking behavior, despite harmful consequences. Addiction can lead to a lot of consequences, physical and mental problems, in the personal, social and professional domains. It can be difficult to overcome without professional help. A lot of people think that it is the weak who succumb to this disease; if only they strengthen their will power they can come out of it. Addiction disease does not spare anyone. All of us are going to be vulnerable to this disease, the rich, the poor, the educated, the illiterate, any gender, any caste or creed. We are all having a genetic vulnerability; it’s the environmental modifiers that play a significant role in eliciting this vulnerability into a disease. It’s important to identify addictions at an early stage, as with all illnesses early detection and treatment can give a better prognosis. Delay in treatment only worsens the disease.
In this article, we will discuss some signs that can help you smell out this illness at an early stage.
Changes in Behavior and Mood
One of the primary changes that can help you think about substance use at an early stage is changes in behavior and mood. If you notice a loved one suddenly becoming more irritable, aggressive, or withdrawn, it could be a sign that they are struggling with situations. Other changes seen could be over activity, such as sudden bursts of energy or lethargy, depression, anxiety, or suspiciousness.
People struggling with substance use may begin to withdraw from their friends and family and may prefer to spend time alone. They may also avoid social situations where drugs or alcohol are not available or where they may be judged for their behavior.
Physical changes are another trait that can help you identify substance use at an early stage. If you notice that a loved one has lost weight or appears unkempt, it could be a sign that they are struggling with some stress/emotions. Physical changes may also include changes in sleep patterns, bloodshot eyes, or tremors.
Changes in Priorities
People struggling with substance use may also experience changes in priorities. They may begin to neglect their responsibilities at work/school or may spend more time and money on drugs/alcohol. They may also become more secretive and defensive when questioned about their behavior.
Financial troubles are another sign that can help you identify something amiss, people with substance use may spend money on drugs or alcohol, even if it means neglecting other financial responsibilities like paying bills or buying food. They may also borrow money or sell their possessions to pay for drugs or alcohol.
People with substance use may engage in risky behaviors that put themselves and others in danger. This may include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, engaging in unsafe sexual practices, or stealing to support their addiction.
Tolerance and Withdrawal
Tolerance and withdrawal are two important signs that can help you identify substance use at an early stage. People struggling with addiction may develop a tolerance to drugs or alcohol, which means that they need more of the substance to achieve the desired effect. They may also experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using the substance, which can include anxiety, depression, irritability, nausea, and vomiting.
If you notice any of these changes in a loved one, it’s important to address the situation as soon as possible. Addiction is a chronic disease that can have serious physical, mental, and emotional consequences. It’s important to seek professional help to address the addiction and prevent it from causing further harm. The medical dictum holds true here too, “early treatment better prognosis.”
How to help someone who is struggling with addiction
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use, there are many resources available to help. In India, there are several organizations that provide support and treatment for addiction, including:
National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC): The NDDTC is a treatment and research center based in Delhi that provides comprehensive services for addiction.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): AA is a worldwide fellowship of men and women who have struggled with alcohol addiction. AA meetings are free and open to anyone who wants to attend.
Narcotics Anonymous (NA): NA is a worldwide fellowship of men and women who have struggled with drug addiction. NA meetings are free and open.
Alpha Healing Center: Alpha is a premium rehab center based near Vadodara, Gujarat spread across 10 acres. Here, one can come to rejuvenate, overcome addictions under qualified team of experts, doctors and counselors who will carry out holistic healing programs including one to one counseling, groups sessions, art therapy, music therapy, hypnotherapy, yoga, meditation, recreational activities like swimming, volleyball, tennis, table tennis, cricket and a lot more including organic farming.
The article is contributed by Dr. I. R. Rajkumar, M.D. D.P.M. (BOM), Consultant Psychiatrist at Alpha Healing Center.