How does a drug addict think, feel, and behave while actively addicted?
- Signs and symptoms of drug psychosis
What are the signs ans symptoms of drug psychosis? How can you tell if it's temporary or permanent?
Types of drugs
Drug addiction is not glamorous, despite the media trying to portray it that way. Substances won't make your life more fancy or thrilling, they won't gift you with superhuman powers. The type of drug a user abuses really doesn't matter. Although individual drugs affect people differently, addiction behaviors are usually the same, regardless of the drug(s) used.
The main difference between one substance vs. another is how lethal they are. What's bad vs what's not so bad is irrelevant to a user. Drug addicts often abuse multiple substances. Some drugs will kill you quick, or wreck the life you knew beforehand very fast. Others (quickly-meth, coke, other speed) rot you from the inside out, slowly eating all you were from the inside out until there is nothing left. All of them change the way you perceive, feel, or view life, even if positive or negative. Drug and alcohol abuse destroys someone; body, mind, and spirit.
Most drugs can cause psychosis, temporary or permanent. The main ones that really distort your thinking and cognitive function are speed (meth especially), inhalants, alcohol, heroin, and hallucinogens The variety of drugs available these days is a frightening smorgasbord. And the addict you’re watching will display different physical symptoms depending on whether their on booze, speed, pills, inhalants, or other substances.
Over-doses can result, sometimes without much notice, or other times users can abuse drugs for a very long time and die slowly, with the quality of life decreasing much more rapidly than a non-user.
But how often do you see an 85 year old coke addict? Not often. Because drug addicts typically die young. In 2014 the average age of a heroin addict dying from overdose was between 30-45 years of age. Our bodies can only endure so many toxins before it begins to fail.
Heart attack signs
- How to Recognize Signs of a Heart Attack
What signs and symptoms will be present if you're about to have a heart attack? Recognize the warning signs and save your life, or possibly someone else's.
Some movies & shows that portray an addicts behavior
Movies glamorize drug use. And although initially it may be great fun, they fail to show you the aftermath of a serious addict. Illness, crime, sickness, over-doses, financial devastation, legal problems, broken-families, homelessness, community problems, disability, and worst case scenario- death. Addiction affects everyone it comes in contact with. They say for every addict, 4 people are emotionally, physically or financially affected.
These drug related movies may be entertaining, but their endings give pretty clear illustration about the path drug addiction can lead to.
Here is a short list of flicks:
- Spun...about meth
- Dazed and Confused...about pot
- Breaking Bad...about meth
- Blow...about cocaine
- Trainspotting..about heroin
- Requiem for a Dream...about heroin
- The Doors...about LSD and pot
- Rush...about cocaine, pills, heroin, alcohol
Reality about alcohol abuse
- Alcoholic Liver Disease- The reality of drinking
Alcohol is not harmless, long term drinking and binge drinking can have serious health consequences. Alcoholism is a progressive disease which can damage and eventually destroy your liver.
Drugs and physical symptoms
Speed-cocaine, meth, uppers-profuse sweating, body odor, animated behavior, becoming obsessed with repetitive tasks, picking and scratching, staying up for days, anxiety, dilated pupils, unable to sit still, aggression, violence, paranoia, anorexia. Long term use will most likely result in severe weight loss, looking like a zombie, major tooth decay, complete destruction of life, possible death and over-dose.
Inhalants-blood shot eyes, foul body odor, black-outs, passing-out, seizures, discolored fingers or teeth, "maniacal laughter over nothing", brain damage, oxygen loss, coma, death.
Marijuana-blood shot eyes, stench, coughing, short term memory loss, elevated mood, hunger, excessive thirst. Marijuana is the least harmful of drugs to use, but still causes lung damage when inhaled and potential memory loss with chronic use.
Pills/Opiates/Heroin-various-behavior could appear as all above depending on what is used. Appearing groggy or in a "stupor", nodding out, mood swings, anxiety, extreme withdrawal when discontinued use, night sweats, cold/flu symptoms. Pulmonary Edema. Over-dose, coma, even death. Liver and lung diseases are common.
Alcohol-stench, lack of coordination physically, unable to string sentences together, mood swings, anxiety, headaches, dehydration, depression, sweating, shaking, unpredictable demeanor, violence, black-outs, passing-out, vomiting, seizure, alcohol related accidents, liver disease, coma, poisoning, even death.
Hallucinogens- LSD, Mushrooms, etc... dilated pupils, vomiting, odd behavior,increased heart rate and blood pressure, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, distortion of time, feelings of fear, death, terror, or grandiosity. Visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations. A typical "trip" lasts 8-16 hours, these drugs are not physically addictive.
You're friend Crystal
- What is Crystal Meth Abuse? What are the side effect...
This drug will pick you up, shake you around, swallow your soul, and spit you out as a walking corpse
What does crystal meth look like?
- How to tell if a drug you are about to try is crysta...
Here are a few ways you may be able to determine if the drug you are about to try is crystal meth. This is basic information, and the smartest thing to do is walk away if you're unsure!!!
Foundation for a drug free world
- Foundation for a Drug Free World: The Truth About Drugs, Nonprofit Alcoholism & Substance Abuse
Learn more about the worldwide addiction prevention effort through the Foundation for a Drug Free World, a global nonprofit group providing facts about substance abuse and alcoholism. Find out how this intervention and education program helps to halt
Don't turn yourself into Steve Buscemi!
A possible view of the addicts background
People dabble with drugs for a variety of reasons, and not everyone comes from a destructive childhood, but it is common. People will try drugs for various reasons, including; self-medicating for depression or other untreated mental illness, curiosity & experimentation, stress from life, boredom, to be social, to fit in, to seem grown up, and to rebel. Sometimes people even become addicted to medications prescribed for a valid health condition, or pain management.
One thing that appears to be a trend with heavy users is their up-bringing, background, and family history.
You may notice addicts (a lot of times) have had a tougher childhood than average, but again, not always.
Often they are children of addicts themselves, alcoholism has been proven to be inherited. Addicts also see adults they should model after and trust abusing drugs during childhood. Children do what they see. Monkey see, monkey do.
At very young ages they are typically put into positions that require adult coping skills, since they don’t have coping skills of adults they do not process what they see and deal with in normal ways. They may have been sexually abused, neglected, or physically abused, and are left to emotionally navigate big issues by themselves without a fully developed brain. They may have to be care-givers to parents, or siblings. These are responsibilities that shouldn't have fallen on their shoulders. Depression and acting out frequently ensues. In teen years, they may struggle with education, hang around with the “wrong crowd”, make chronic bad decisions, get involved in body modification (tattoos, piercings, sadomasochism), be promiscuous and get pregnant, or have issues with juvenile detention or the law. Because of their turbulent childhoods, they don’t focus on school, playing, sports and learning about life the way a child in a “normal” household would. Since “normal” is subjective and blurry anymore the definition of what I mean is having parental involvement, routines, rules, living in a relatively stable environment, seeing their parents involvement in positive things; community programs, volunteering, hobbies, working and tending to responsibilities, going to church or other forms of spirituality and worship. Homes that are full of abuse, neglect, broken, lack of guidance, immorality, and parental absence, are more likely to produce children that grow into adulthood and use or abuse drugs.
Most often drug addicts enter adulthood ill-equipped to deal with the demands of adult life. The coping skills they applied to life from birth-25 don’t work anymore, so they turn to drugs.
What behaviors may show up with teens abusing drugs?
- Running away, being out during hours they should be home
- Hanging with the “wrong crowd”
- Chronic bad decision making or clear disregard to consequences and rules
- Withdrawal from hobbies, friends and family
- Detentions, expulsion from school, getting arrested
- Teen pregnancy
- Sleep disturbances (over or under sleeping)
- Mood swings
- Violent and aggressive behavior
An active addict in adulthood
Besides the health consequences for addicts, families, and communities, an adult addict can usually be spotted by behavior. There is an old saying "how can you tell when an addict is lying?" "their lips are moving". The addicted brain will stop at nothing to get what it feels it needs to be "normal". Adult addicts are skilled in the art of lying and manipulation. You should never believe an addict. They will lie, steal, cheat, and do whatever they need to do to get their drugs. They will blame people that try to help them.
When someone becomes addicted to a drug, that drug will most likely take precedence over everything else in the users life, including work, children, their own health, morality, judgement, the list is endless. Most of the time addicts abuse multiple drugs at various times. A benzo will counter the nasty effects of speed, a drink takes the edge off, some pot helps give a "pick me up", or the addict you know may have a preference to a specific "drug family". By drug family I mean downers, uppers, speed, etc...
Typical drug addict behavior in adults includes, but is not limited to;
- Severe mood swings, extreme anger, depression, blaming
- DUI's, legal problems, car accidents, loss of transportation
- Disheveled appearance
- They may appear "slow" or "stupid"
- Unable to maintain or procure employment
- Unable to maintain a residence or home, pay bills, or pay rent or a mortgage
- Severe weight loss or weight gain
- Dilated pupils, excessive sweating, excessive excitement, animation, talking about non-sense, unable to control their bodies, foul body odor, blood shot eyes (depending on the drug)
- Failing and strained relationships or marriages
- Child abuse or neglect to their own children, stepchildren, foster, etc...
- Loss of custodial rights to said children
- Finding drug paraphernalia near them, in their home, car
- Unpredictable crazy behavior
- Broken promises (they promise to stop and get help, but don't)
How does a drug addict think?
Drugs damage the brain and distorts how someone views the world or other people, they may be paranoid or think everyone is out to get them, change them, control them. The frontal lobes of their brain will not function correctly, this is the main area of the brain that controls morality and judgement. They often act immature, and "don't make sense", they can be consumed with fatigue and depression when crashing or coming down. Their main thought will be getting the next high. Addiction is a disease and more often than not progressive if not halted.
The addict is not your loved one. Until they eliminate the drug abuse, you may not even recognize them. In a way they are possessed. The brain cannot make rational decisions, or function the way it needs to when it is constantly assaulted with poison, toxins, and malnutrition.
So how do they think? Well...usually they don't, or all behavior is centered around themselves. They usually have a high level of drama in their lives, constant "problems" they need help with, they call or come around when they need help or rescued, when you don't do what they want you are labeled as the problem and blamed for the mess they've created. They don't need you if you don't help how they demand! They push you away, tell you to leave them alone. Do not expect your addict to think in the future. They live in the "now" and in an extreme, often, unhealthy way. Often they are not concerned with next week, or sometimes even the next hour. They are unreliable, will miss appointments, and will let you down, even if their best intention is not to do so. You have to remember until they get some sober time under their belt, they will do crazy things. Often making you feel like the crazy one.
Deep on the inside they are most likely over run with guilt, depression, lack of coping skills, and full of emotions they don't know how to deal with without drugs. They know they've messed up their lives and sometimes piecing it back together is just to difficult, continuing to use is easier.
It's not hopeless
Addiction is no way to live life. It is destructive for every aspect of an addicts life.
Although there is a high relapse rate for drug addicts, they can get their lives together and be sober. Trying a drug is voluntary, addiction is not. Hate the disease, not the addict. With the proper support many lives are changed and saved for those addicted to drugs, even before an addict hits rock bottom. Family support, rehabs and a genuine desire to change are needed for and from the addict.
The addict has to come to a turning point or a crossroad. They need to admit there is a problem and that they need help. But most importantly, that they WANT help. You cannot force someone to give up an addiction (not with threats, blaming, or manipulation), they have to want sobriety more than their addiction and once they do, healing can begin taking place. Let your loved one know that you will be there to support them with open loving arms when they are ready for genuine help. In the meantime, don't rescue or enable them. Let them take the full blow for consequences for using. This doesn't mean you can't encourage them to get sober, or that you can't take care of yourself during the madness. Not enabling is the quickest way to get them to see on their own that they need help.
Hope for Today
Help for friends and family to those that are addicted
You have to know or learn that changing the addict to your specifications is unreasonable, as well as damn near impossible. The best thing you can do for you when someone you know or love is addicted is to take care of yourself. Practice love in a detached, emotionally safe, non-enabling way. Consider joining a support group like Al-Anon, AA, see a therapist, and above all, love yourself.
© 2013 Rebecca