Individuals who are addicted to drugs and alcohol behave in ways that are not in tune with the way they would normally act and carry themselves. It can become very evident very quickly that something has gone awry in the individual's life, and family, friends and co-workers can find it difficult to understand why the individual is behaving this way unless they know what the cause of this behavior is. It is easy to shrug off odd or destructive behavior, and come up with excuses of why the individual may be doing things and acting in ways that are not normal or in character. Unless individuals that care for the addict know what to look for, it can be very difficult to confront the individual and attempt to help them before it is too late.
First and foremost, an individual will not be able to maintain their drug or alcohol use while also maintaining a stable and sane home environment for themselves and their loves ones. Addicts will often become absent in the home both physically and mentally, and will lose touch with the usual routines and customs that the rest of the family is accustomed to. Instead, they will spend most of their time isolated using drugs or will be away from the home either doing drugs or obtaining them. This will create tension between themselves and other family members, which can cause fights, physical abuse, and devastating consequences to relationships and the lives and well being of their children. This extends to friends as well, who will notice a definite change in the way that the addicted individual treats friendships and other important relationships.
An addicted individual will lose touch with things they once enjoyed, such as hobbies and sports or socializing. Instead of being involved in productive activities and things which enhance their lives and the lives of those around them they have chosen to abuse drugs. So if a parent, the addict won't be at that soccer game or dance recital. The friends of the addict will soon find themselves extremely low on the list of priorities of the addict, as the addict will have abandoned any positive and proactive relationships and will only associate with individuals who further their habit, provide them with drugs, or support their destructive behavior.
Individuals who are addicted to drugs can be very manipulative. One of the ways they will manipulate loved ones and those closest to them is to make them feel like they are the cause of their addiction and their destructive behavior. Because loved ones can be manipulated in this way, they may find themselves doing things that will inevitably enable the addict to continue their addictive behavior, and they will do this out of guilt and pity. For example, loved ones will reason with themselves and convince themselves that it is better to give the addict money for drugs or help them get their drugs than for them to do something illegal to obtain them. Or, it is better to give the addict a home to live in even though they don't contribute to the household, than to have the addict on the street and in danger. This is obviously not the correct way to respond to manipulative behavior, but is an all too common occurrence and one that prolongs the addictive behavior while also negatively impacting the lives of others who have been manipulated in this way.
Individuals caught up in drug addiction don't have much else on their mind besides getting more drugs and getting high. If they have a job, their boss and co-workers will observe tardiness or complete absence from work, or if the individual is present in the workplace they will often neglect important responsibilities or produce a less than desirable end product in regards to the task at hand. The individual may even show up to work noticeably drunk or high, and may disappear for extended periods of time to do more drugs or drink. They will be unable to function and will neglect their responsibilities and soon will not even be able to be a functioning member of any type of structured environment or schedule.
Individuals who use drugs will also inevitably find themselves involved in risky behavior such as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Millions of people do so each year, resulting in thousands of unnecessary and premature deaths of individuals who are the victims of this destructive decision. Individuals also engage in risky sexual behavior while under the influence of drugs and alcohol; behavior they wouldn't normally engage in or consent to. As a result, addicted individuals put themselves at risk of unwanted and unhealthy pregnancies as well as sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, which will stick with them and affect them negatively for life.
Individuals who administer drugs intravenously often use dirty needles or needles which are not safe to use. This puts them at risk of contracting HIV and other infectious diseases including Hepatitis. Injection drug use is a factor in an almost one-third of individuals who are infected with HIV in the nation. Over an extended period of time, intravenous drug use can also result in collapsed veins and track marks. Veins can become fragile after some time and may even rupture, potentially resulting in hemorrhage, a lack of oxygen to that area of the body resulting in tissue decay, and gangrene.
Individuals who are seriously addicted to drugs will do absolutely anything to support their habit. An addict may start out stealing prescription medication from medicine cabinets, or money out of your purse, which can progress to writing bad checks or even stealing someone else's identity in order to get money for drugs. This can escalate to stealing from stores or people on the street, and even becoming involved in violent crimes and murder to get drugs or money for drugs. Unfortunately, an addict can go so far as to have little regard for their own body and morals, and may even sell themselves for sex to get drugs or get money for drugs. It is not uncommon for an addict to find themselves in a manipulative "relationship" that has no use to them other than obtaining drugs in exchange for sex or companionship.
Prescription drug abuse is becoming one of the top drug problems in the nation. Prescription drugs addiction is associated with a great deal of destructive behavior and crime, some violent in nature, as a result. Like any other drug, individuals who become addicted to prescription drugs will do just about anything to get more of them. They will typically engage in something called "doctor-shopping", going to many different doctors in order to get their prescription filled. Individuals will also forge prescriptions, steal prescriptions which were prescribed to others for legitimate pain, and attempt to acquire them illegally over the Internet. Addicted individuals will go so far as to conduct pharmacy robberies, shoplift, and engage in health care fraud and prescription fraud to get more drugs. The US Department of Justice has established prescription monitoring programs in 21 states to curb the problem, but individuals addicted to prescription drugs are still finding criminal avenues to obtain and abuse these drugs.
Individuals who are involved in what is known as "methadone maintenance" programs, which are designed to "treat" heroin and other opioid addiction, can also become involved in activities which compromise these programs and further their drugs habits. Methadone is commonly diverted and sold for illicit use because of its opiate like effects when taken in high doses. When administered as part of an opioid treatment program, methadone can be dispensed as a single take-home dose to patients for any day that the clinic is closed, including Sundays and state and federal holidays. For individuals who have been enrolled in treatment long-term, treatment programs may dispense up to a 1-month supply of take-home doses. This allows individuals to use the drug for diversion and illicit use. Methadone also is diverted through misrepresentation, like when a methadone patient misleads a treatment provider into prescribing more methadone than is actually needed. The individual will then consume the amount they need from their take-home dose, and sell the rest for approximately $1 per milligram.
Drug addiction can affect people of any age, and parents are faced with the challenge of keeping their children away from drugs and alcohol and distinguishing the normal ups and downs of the teen years with drug addicted behavior. Teens are faced with a tremendous amount of peer pressure to experiment with and use drugs and alcohol, and there comes a point where the opinion of their peers trumps the opinion and moral code that their parents have tried to instill in their child. The parent no longer is "cool", and it becomes an all too common social pressure to use drugs which can quickly turn into addiction. A parent should know to trust their gut, and if their instinct tells them that something is wrong it is better to be safe than sorry. If the youth is hanging out with a new crowd, skipping class, failing in school, etc. don't hesitate to investigate. There could also be changes in everyday routines such as sleep or eating habits or a lack of personal hygiene for example. Again, intuition is the best tool that a parent can use to confront the teen and take action right away. The longer you wait the worse the problem will become.
As you can see, being addicted to any kind of drug drains life of any goodness that should be experienced, and replaces it would negative and destructive activities and experiences for the addict and those around them. The only hope for individuals who are seriously addicted to drugs or alcohol is an effective drug rehab program designed to meet their individual needs. There are a number of drug rehab programs available, some of which are effective yet generic treatment programs which can assist with all types of addiction, and others which are more tailor-made to treat a unique set of circumstances. Whatever the case may be, the important thing is to get the individual on the right track and in treatment as soon as possible.
If the addicted individual is not willing to accept help and their addiction has reached a crisis point, an intervention may be necessary to get them at a point where they are willing to go to treatment. The belief that the individuals must reach "rock bottom" or will only quit if they want to is a myth. This has caused many individuals to forego receiving the help they desperately needed, and many lives have been lost as a result. An intervention can be used at any stage of addiction to interrupt the progression of the problem. An intervention also puts the manipulation that is commonly used by addicts at a standstill, and family members and loved ones can take control of the situation and rid their lives of the toxicity that goes along with having someone in their lives that is addicted to drugs or alcohol. If they don't accept help, family members and loved ones will no longer tolerate their addictive behavior, or help enable this behavior.
Those individuals who choose drugs and alcohol over anything else in their lives do so while in a chemically deluded frame of mind which can only be resolved with treatment. It is important that individuals who are associated with addicted individuals, both intimately and casually understand the signs and symptoms of drugs and alcohol abuse, and are also able to recognize the behaviors associated with drug and alcohol addiction so that they do not become victims of this behavior. Most importantly, stop this behavior dead in tracks by getting the addicted individual the help they need as soon as possible at an effective drug rehab.