Many people falsely believe that addiction is a matter of choice or poor judgment because they’re unaware of the ways potent drugs can alter brain chemistry with habitual use. Because of these antiquated attitudes, some may perceive those struggling with substance use disorder as flawed rather than people who need treatment for chronic disease. Spreading awareness about how persistent substance misuse can change an individual’s personality can help people notice worrisome patterns among their loved ones.
People grappling with addiction often devote most of their energy toward acquiring and consuming their substance of choice. The disease of addiction recalibrates the reward pathway in their brains to prioritize use, causing them to act suspiciously when trying to conceal habits from loved ones. Most of what drives them to secretive behavior are guilt and denial of their problem, fearing ridicule or punishment from their friends and family. Keeping odd hours, irregular sleeping habits, and disappearing for days or weeks at a time are just a few telltale signs.
When someone’s life revolves around drug use, they’re likely to shy away from their closest peers to avoid being detected. Detracting from family gatherings or everyday conversations with loved ones is how many people with substance use disorder deal with the shame they feel for their illness. The hyper-focus on their addiction can also lead to a noticeable shift in friend groups, causing the person using to hang out with new and suspicious people who are enabling or supplying them consistently.
A person inundated with substance use tends to forego their previous hobbies and interests. The general air of indifference and lethargy becomes apparent as addiction sets in, draining most of the user’s time and energy. This malaise will usually encompass things like personal hygiene, causing a drastic decline in appearance and overall health. People closest to the drug user tend to notice this change most frequently, sparking concern. Due to the drug user’s limited mental bandwidth for anything outside of their addiction, confrontations about this noticeable change rarely lead to any productive discussion and are likely to cause conflict among friends and family.
Using illicit drugs often leads to unethical or questionable behavior. Studies have found that prolonged substance misuse can eventually impair the prefrontal cortex, which involves self-control, organization, attention, and emotional regulation. With a lack of prediction and foresight, many drug users find themselves in dangerous places, and positions with unknown people can cause them harm. There are also issues connected to lower inhibitions that can lead to significant health concerns, such as infection or disease from unprotected sex and sharing needles.
Drugs become very expensive, and addiction doesn’t only drain a person’s energy but their bank account too. People trying to fund their substance use habits may become overly concerned with money and begin to sacrifice vital expenditures on things like groceries, self-care, bills, and much more. When desperate, they may also turn to stealing money and valuables to pawn for cash. With a constant need for money for drugs, loved ones may begin to feel used or betrayed by someone who is preoccupied with financing their addiction, and it can lead to arguments and friction between family members.
There is hope for recovery for those struggling with drug or alcohol misuse. The specialized medical providers, nursing staff, and substance use counselors at Middlesex Recovery understand that addiction requires comprehensive treatment to give patients the best chances of rebuilding their health and lives. Message or call a nearby office today to learn more about the outpatient treatment programs available at Middlesex Recovery clinics.