Helping a Loved One Addicted to Depressants
Depressants, also known as downers, reduce brain stimulation or depress nervous system activity so that you feel relaxed and less anxious. In the short term, when used as prescribed by a medical practitioner they can help you manage and control acute stress, however they are addictive and it is possible to misuse them and become dependent.
If you suspect a loved one is addicted to depressants you may have noticed the following signs: secretive behavior, mood swings, and decreased social activity, decreased work productivity, periods of depression or apathy, and withdrawal symptoms when not using depressants. Also with long term usage you become more tolerant and need to take more of the substance for it to have the same effect. Increasing dosage without medical advice is a sign that a person may have developed a dependence on a drug.
The short term effects of depressant misuse can include; lowered blood pressure, dilated pupils, difficulty concentrating, slowed pulse and breathing, fatigue or sleepiness, problems urinating and feeling dizzy or confused. The long term effects of depressant misuse include; chronic fatigue, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, breathing and sleeping difficulties and depression.
The nature of depressants means that withdrawal symptoms can be sudden and severe. Signs of withdrawal from depressants include; insomnia, nausea and vomiting, weakness, confusion, hallucinations and anxiety or panic attacks, seizures, tremors and pain. These symptoms can lead to your loved one continuing to take the depressants to alleviate the withdrawal even if they want to quit.
If you believe a loved one has become addicted you will probably have mixed feelings. You need to remember that your loved one is ill, not suffering a lack of willpower. You are likely to want to help but where do you start? It is important that you stay calm when tackling the issue so you can be supportive. Find the right moment to mention your concerns and make it clear that you are there for them through their recovery. Denial is very common in addiction so be prepared for your loved one to deny there is a problem. If possible, point out to them the ways their addiction is impacting on their life and emphasize any positives which would come from recovery. Listening to what they have to say is as important as talking and just getting them to open up is a great start. Helping an addicted loved one is possible but it is advisable to seek professional help.
If they are willing to accept that there is a problem that is half the battle, if not then you may need to seek support for yourself. At CASA Recovery in San Juan Capistrano, CA we understand the difficulties of trying to help a loved one with an addiction. Contact us to discuss our drug abuse recovery programs in Orange County; we have the knowledge and experience to support you and your loved one through the process.