If you are concerned about a family member

Spotting the Symptoms

The symptoms of drug dependency numerous but can be difficult to attribute to a dependency because many are symptomatic of a busy or stressful lifestyle. Symptoms can include loss of appetite and a subsequent loss of weight, increased anxiety, lethargy and disturbed sleep patterns, blurred vision, sweating, tremors, red and swollen eyes, mood swings, short term memory loss and paranoia. If you feel that somebody you know is displaying some of these symptoms then there are several sources of advice and help available.

NHS help

Your GP is available to discuss the symptoms and effects of drug dependency and will be able to offer guidance on how to approach the subject of addiction with the individual you are concerned about. Once you have discussed the problem with the individual concerned be sure to let them know you and any other friends or family are there to support and not to judge them. The individual should use their GP as a first port of call; here the extent of the problem can be assessed and a subsequent plan of action can be formulated.

Breaking up the Routine

Try to remove the individual from any routine or familiar surroundings that might be impacting on their decision to take drugs; for example take them away from the crowd of people they are used to hanging around with and offer a new way to entertain or interest them; this will help to make them think about something other than drugs and may encourage them to take on new hobbies and use their time in a more constructive manner.

Help and Support

Let the individual know that there are several sources of help, support and advice available to them and that it is not shameful to have to turn to them. Phone lines run by charities such as the Samaritans and FRANK offer confidential advice 24 hours a day and can be a welcome outlet for feelings and emotions if they are struggling to deal with issues face to face. There are also numerous chat forums online and websites offering practical advice and guidance. Being close to somebody with a drug dependency can also take its toll and charities also offer support for the families and friends of those dependent on drugs. Families Anonymous is just one example and their free anonymous meeting groups can provide a valuable source of discussion, support and advice for those implicated by another individual’s struggle with drug dependency.