By: Jenna Brown
Addiction is complex disease with life-threatening complications to health and well-being. And, at some point or another, most of us will be faced with this illness, either first-hand or through a friend or family member. What’s more, for women who suffer from addiction, the effects tend to be even more serious than they are among men. And since, as women, we have a responsibility to inspire and uplift other females, what do we do when a close girlfriend or family member displays the signs of substance abuse or addiction? Keep reading to find out.
Spotting the Signs of Addiction
Substance abuse and addiction can produce a number of signs and symptoms. And while this disease can affect different women in different ways, common signs include the following:
- Changes in mood or behavior, which often include mood swings, aggression and violent outbursts.
- Isolation from friends and family members.
- Changes in appearance, including those relating to personal hygiene.
- Slurred speech, dilated or restricted pupils, “nodding off,” etc.
- Problems at work or school, including unexplained absences, getting fired from a job or dropping out of school.
- Changes in eating and sleeping patterns.
- Depression, anxiety, paranoia and other psychological problems.
- Problems within personal relationships.
- Unexplained financial difficulties.
- Risky behaviors, such as driving under the influence, having unprotected sex, etc.
- Legal problems, which could stem directly from drug or alcohol abuse, e.g., criminal charges for DUI, possession of illegal substances, theft, etc.
- The onset of withdrawal symptoms when drug or alcohol use is discontinued. Depending on the drug in question, withdrawal symptoms can include fever, chills, nausea and vomiting, runny nose, aches and pains, insomnia, anxiety and more.
- Repeated use of addictive substances, despite negative consequences.
If you have a close friend who is suffering the effects of substance abuse and addiction, you may feel powerless, frustrated and more than a little afraid. And when the signs of addiction are present, recommending treatment can mean the difference between life and death. However, addiction can be a touchy subject, and, if done the wrong way, suggesting treatment may backfire. Thankfully, though, tips like the following can help:
- Stay calm. According to the addiction specialists at Tucson Transitional Living, a loved one’s addictions can spark feelings of anger, fear and resentment. However, when suggesting treatment, intense emotions should be avoided at all costs. Instead, make an effort to stay calm, composed and even-keeled.
- Don’t judge. When suggesting treatment to a friend or family member, refraining from any critical or judgmental language is absolutely essential. Instead, come from a place of love and understanding, and practice empathy to your loved one’s situation.
- Stay neutral. It’s best to have these types of conversations on neutral turf, and, even better, in a public space. Also, if possible, choose a time when your loved one is sober.
- Do your research. Before suggesting treatment, it’s a good idea to research nearby facilities and treatment centers. Get as much information as possible, so you’ll be able to answer any questions your loved one may have.
- Call for backup. Enlisting the help of other friends and loved ones can help. However, make sure the person in question doesn’t feel attacked or ganged up on; instead, have everyone express feelings of love and support, and avoid any aggressiveness or combativeness.
Watching a female friend or family member suffer the effects of drugs and alcohol is never easy. However, with the tips provided here, you’re better equipped at spotting the symptoms of addiction, and recommending treatment to a woman in need. Don’t let a friend suffer alone; help them find the treatment necessary to better, brighter future.
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