If you are dealing with a loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you probably feel lost, confused, and helpless. It’s hard to see any ray of hope when your family member or close friend keeps lying to you and self-destructing. Drugs or alcohol have taken over their life – and in a way yours as well – and you can no longer predict what your loved one is going to do or what kind of turn their life will take. It helps to understand what is going on with the addict, how the addiction is controlling them, and how you can help them.
Drugs and the Body
If your loved one is addicted to a substance, whether drugs or alcohol, they are experiencing a deterioration of their physical health. Different drugs impact the human body in different ways, but the general effects will be the same. The person’s sleep habits and activity level will become disrupted: sometimes with long periods of sleepiness and lethargy, sometimes off-the-wall energy and insomnia. They may experience issues with breathing and irregular heart rate. Their kidneys and liver will start to shut down or become diseased, as their body struggles to filter out the toxins. Stomach issues, either constipation or diarrhea, and vomiting are common side effects of excessive drug and alcohol use. Their coordination will be off, both large movements and small motor skills, and they might experience falls and other accidents more commonly. They will also have cravings for their substance and will show withdrawal symptoms if they stop using (headache, body aches, nausea, excessive tiredness, shakes, insomnia).
Drugs and the Brain
Drug and alcohol abuse affects every major system of the body, but perhaps the impacts are the most pronounced in the brain. The drugs and alcohol take over the brain, interfering with its ability to experience pleasure, feel pain, and concentrate. Those who are addicted to substances will show signs of brain impairment: trouble learning, memory issues, and changes in behavior and mood. The mind is a powerful thing, and when it is impaired, as in the case of drug or alcohol abuse, it can make everyday activity and interactions difficult.
Of course, issues with the brain impact every part of the person’s life, and these issues are the ones that tend to scare loved ones the most. Drugs and alcohol can cause the person’s personality to change, making them combative and aggressive, depressed, violent, and leading them to hurt you in ways they otherwise never would. Your addicted loved one needs their substance for coping with stress, for helping them relax, for the confidence to face their day, and to deal with pain and disappointment, not to mention if they stop using they face nasty withdrawal symptoms. It is for these reasons your loved one seems to have lost control. It is because of the cravings and the sick feelings without drugs or alcohol that cause the person to do anything to get more of their substance. They will lie to you, steal from you, and commit other crimes so they can score another hit. If they still have some sense of right and wrong and they know they are messing things up, they will hide what they are doing and lie to you about their situation.
Drug and alcohol use, as you can see, takes over a person’s body and mind, making them unpredictable and distant from loved ones, and making it difficult for them to function without the substance or live a sober life on their own. This does not mean that your loved one is an unwilling victim in this whole problem. It doesn’t mean they don’t have any hope of life without drugs again, either. It does mean that to recover, the person needs rehab and therapy to help them break free from the control of their addiction.
To get help for your loved one today, call Sober Helpline at (888) 907-8039.