“Just Say No” as the popular anti drug campaign goes is one of the most difficult things to do for a person looking for some respite. The drugs don’t talk back, they don’t leave you, they don’t use you are some of the popular disbeliefs that drug users harbor, making it a dangerous addiction. This article deals with understanding the causes of drug abuse, symptoms and signs and some treatments that could be of use.

Causes of Drug Abuse:

o History of mental illness: drugs are sometimes used by people with mental disorders and in some cases even worsen already existing mental illness. They can even create new illnesses.
o Family History: it has not been completely ascertained that genetics and environment play an important role in drug abuse, but if you have a family history of addiction then you are at a higher risk of abusing drugs.
o Physical Pain: illegal drugs and pain medication, like heroin taken without any medical supervision can become addictive.
o Peer Pressure: one of the largest reasons is peer pressure, as if you are with people who are doing drugs then you are tempted to and many times pressured to try these drugs.

Signs and Symptoms of Drug Abuse

Physical Symptoms:

Drug abuse affects the brain and the body directly and when “high” the drug affects the entire body, from heart rate to blood pressure. Every drug has different effects on the body like cocaine “amps up” the body by increasing the heart rate and metabolism to opiates and barbiturates that slow down the body, reduces the breathing, alertness, blood pressure, sometimes to dangerous levels. Let’s take a look at some physical signs:

o Cycles of increased restlessness, energy and inability to sleep/insomnia (often seen in stimulants)
o Sudden weight loss or weight gain
o Excessive sleep cycles
o Abnormal speech, slow movements or reaction time, confusion and disorientation (often seen in opiates, barbiturates and benzodiazepines)
o Unexpected changes in clothing, like constantly wearing long sleeved shirts, to hide scarring at injection sites
o Suspected drug paraphernalia such as unexplained pipes, roach clips or syringes
o For snorted drugs- nosebleeds or chronic troubles with sinusitis.
o For smoked drugs- bronchitis or a persistent cough leading to coughing up excessive mucus or blood.
o Drug and alcohol abuse at the same time is also possible which could lead to lower immunity as well.
o Progressive severe dental problems especially with methamphetamine usage.

Emotional and Mental Signs:

o Cycles of being unusually talkative and “up” and cheerful, with seemingly limitless energy.
o Increased irritability, anger and agitation
o Unusual calmness, unresponsiveness or looking “spaced out”
o Temporary psychosis, hallucinations
o Depression and Apathy
o Delusions and Paranoia
o Low threshold for violence

On the road to recovery:

The road to recovery is very tedious and disheartening at times. You cannot force your loved one to stop using drugs as the choice is up to them. But the right support can help make positive changes in your loved one’s life without losing yourself in the process. Withdrawal symptoms can be nasty, painful and even deadly at time, which makes the drug user want to go back, but medical input and therapist help can make a difference.