signs_of_drug_abuse_extra.jpgActress Lovi Poe’s rumored boyfriend Rep. Ronald Singson was arrested in Hong Kong last July 11 for drug trafficking, Spot.PH reports. According to GMANews.tv, the congressman was found with 26.1 grams of cocaine and two tablets of Valium at the Chek Lap Kok International Airport. Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson apologized on behalf of his son. He claims Ronald is the victim of drug pushers, citing his heartbroken state over his recent breakup with Lovi as his reason for going abroad. Meanwhile, PEP.ph says that Lovi Poe is not yet ready to give a statement regarding the rumored relationship and breakup.

Drug abuse affects not just the person taking illegal substances, but his or her loved ones as well. This article in the LA Times discusses how it disrupts the lives of family members and creates interpersonal problems like emotional trauma and violence or even cheating and separation.

Worried that someone close to you might have a drug problem? FN lists five signs to watch out for below. Click on a sign to find out more about it or just read on:


DETERIORATION OF PHYSICAL APPEARANCE

This article on HelpGuide.org cites a decline in physical appearance and personal grooming habits as one of the warning signs of drug abuse. According to Vicente Aldanese, director of drug and alcohol rehabilitation center We Do Recover, even abrupt changes in clothing choice—like taking to long-sleeved shirts (a possible sign that they’re hiding injection site scars) when the person normally wears tank tops—could be a warning. If you notice your loved one having constantly bloodshot eyes as well as unusual smells on his breath, body or clothes, it’s time to pay more attention.

 
SUDDEN CHANGES IN BEHAVIOR OR APPEARANCE

Has a family member suddenly gained or lost weight? Is he sleeping too much, or does he seem to have developed insomnia? Aldanese says drug abuse affects the person’s body and brain directly, creating abrupt changes. It’s a vicious cycle: the more one uses the drug, the more he mentally and physically adapts to it, and the more he needs it. He is in danger of going from being a substance abuser to becoming substance dependent. A person who is normally pleasant may suddenly sound selfish and uncaring of others. He may forego hobbies he used to love and withdraw from his family just to accommodate his drug habit. You might also notice a change in social circle and places he hangs out in.

However, physical changes may not be as obvious in long-time users and those who have developed increased drug tolerance. Malyn Cristobal, family therapist, addiction counselor, and founder of the Living Free Foundation , says "they do not look so different anymore, meaning they do no lose so much weight. They just gradually start looking gray or kulay ash."


MOOD SWINGS

According to the American Council for Drug Education, habitual drug users experience sudden jumps in mood, which may range from being oversensitive and depressed to becoming giddy and excitable. The drug abuser’s irritability may sometimes turn into verbal explosions and aggressiveness. Cristobal says their temper gets triggered easily because they are feeling the urge to use. According to this article on eHow.com, part of the reason why abuse causes mood swings is that drugs makes the brain release a surplus of dopamine—a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure. Thus, the brain starts associating pleasure with the drug. When the drug isn’t present, the user may become depressed.


LACK OF ATTENTION OR MOTIVATION

Due to his constantly inebriated state, the drug abuser undergoes psychological changes that, as HelpGuide.org puts it, make him appear lethargic or “spaced out”—unresponsive to anything that is going on around him. eHow.com says this happens because the body works double time to perform functions it can do normally without drugs in the system. Cardiovascular-targeted drugs like cocaine, for example, can make the person tired after the drug’s effects subside.


NEGLECTING RESPONSIBILITIES

Aldanese notes that a person with a drug problem spends a lot of time thinking about drugs: where to get them, how to get the money to buy them, and the like. This mental dependence, combined with the signs mentioned previously, leads him to perform poorly at work and school, even to the point of neglecting his family. His condition, which also impairs his judgment, makes him live his life for drugs. A lot of dependents are chronic liars, Cristobal notes, so you might want to check on your employees who are always making cash advances or are often absent saying they're sick.


To read about specific drugs and the symptoms that go with each one, visit the website of the American Council for Drug Education and the US National Library of Medicine.

Note: Observing some or even all of these symptoms in a loved one does not necessarily mean that person is a drug abuser; however, taken together, they are a good indication that something is wrong. You may want to urge the suspected abuser to open up and talk to you or a counselor. It's also a good idea to read up on more symptoms at the websites listed above, which you can compare to your friend or relative's behavior in order to be surer of whether or not he or she is a drug abuser.

Have you confirmed that your loved one is a drug abuser or dependent? Cristobal advises the affected person's family members to first stop living in denial and acknowledge their loved one's drug problem. "Partners or loved ones have to stop being the safety nets of their addict," she says. "As families continue to enable they, in a way, continue to support the addiction."


(Photos courtesy of PEP.ph)

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