Addiction Help: The warning signs of substance use and abuse

Counseling Service of Addison County and The Addison County Committee on Opiate Addiction have teamed to put together a series of articles for our community this summer. Our hope is that this column offers information, support and hope for addiction recovery, specifically opiate addiction (heroin/painkillers). 
This week’s writer is Jessi de Boer, who is a licensed alcohol and drug counselor and a licensed clinical mental health counselor, is coordinator of Adult Recovery Services at CSAC.
• • • • • • •
Prevention is the best way to put an end to the disease of addiction in our community. It is important to speak to your children and loved-ones early and often about substances and addiction. Addiction is a disease that is caused by both genetic and environmental factors. If you have a family member who has addiction or alcoholism it may be a genetic factor in your family. It is always a good time to talk about this addiction. 
Addiction is all too common for many families — most of us know someone who is struggling. Just as you would warn your children about heart disease in your family, warn them about addiction in the family as well. 
Here are some warning signs to look for:
• Withdrawal from friends or family.
• No longer taking joy in activities or events that used to be fun for the person.
• Sudden change in friends.
• Disconnection and disinterest (“blah” attitude).
• Secretive behavior, disappearing for extended periods of time at family or social events.
• Sudden mood swings and unpredictable behavior.
You’re probably thinking this list describes most people at one time or another, especially teens. The important thing to remember if you answered “yes” to any items above something is suddenly changing in this loved one and it is worth talking about it directly with them. It might not be an addiction problem, but your loved one needs some support.
Drugs and alcohol often cause a brief “feel good” reaction and if addiction follows it can turn from feeling good to barely surviving for the user. If you suspect drugs or alcohol are a problem, tell your loved one about your family history and your concerns. If you need help, reach out to our community partners in prevention, intervention and recovery.
For help today go to: www.addictionhelpvt.com. There is help right here in Addison County.
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