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Personality Changes For Those Battling Substance Abuse

Substance use disorder is a form of mental illness involving compulsive use of drugs or alcohol despite profound negative consequences. Because of the changes in brain chemistry often associated with prolonged substance abuse, drastic personality changes are, unfortunately, often part of the deal.

If you have observed significant behavioral changes in a loved one who you suspect may be in need of addiction treatment, here is a brief guide that may help friends and family members to recognize the way addiction tends to alter an individual’s personality, thus giving them insight into this incredibly complex disease. It features brief explanations of five major signs that a person’s addiction is having a negative affect on their personality, which is often a sign that addiction treatment may be warranted.

  1. Frequent Mood Swings

    One of the most obvious behavioral changes associated with abusing drugs is increased emotional volatility. As an addict bounces back and forth between enervating highs and subsequent crashes, their levels of critical brain chemicals are constantly fluctuating, making it hard for them to maintain any emotional equilibrium.

    Brain imaging studies have also found that, over time, prolonged substance use disorder can damage the areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, thus creating more permanent personality changes in the person suffering from addiction, which means that time is of the essence when it comes to convincing such a person to get help.

  2. Risky Behavior

    Addiction alters the brain’s ability to enact impulse control in a variety of ways, both by suppressing the activity of the parts of the brain responsible for self control and by driving those with addictions to increasingly desperate behavior as they become willing to do almost anything to obtain their drug of choice.

    While someone who is merely a casual drug user may be able to have the self control to avoid risky behavior like sharing needles if there is no safer option available, an addicted person will usually risk their life and health in order to get the hit they need.

    Someone suffering from drug addiction may engage in other risky behavior like unprotected sex, criminal activity, or driving while intoxicated, due to a lack of judgement caused by drugs or alcohol or in their struggle to cope with an increasingly chaotic life.

  3. Depression And Anxiety

    Mental health challenges and substance abuse tend to go hand in hand. The coexistence of addiction and another mental health disorder is known as a dual diagnosis, and up to fifty percent of all people with addiction are through to suffer from another mental health disorder as well.

    As the most common mental health challenges, anxiety and depression are the ones most commonly associated with substance use disorders, since someone who frequently feels unhappy or insecure will often turn to substances to provide answers and relief if proper treatment is inaccessible to them.

    However, though “self medication” with drugs and alcohol may temporarily alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, the way addiction affects the brain ultimately makes anxiety and depression worse by destabilizing underlying neurochemistry. If you notice escalating mental health challenges in a loved one who has shown other concerning behavior around substances, worsening addiction could be the cause.

    1. Distancing From Friends and Family Members

    If a loved one who you suspect may be suffering from addiction starts to pull away from their social or family life, now may be the time to confront them about their substance abuse.

    Those with serious substance use disorders tend to self-isolate as their condition grows more severe, both in an effort to hide the personality and physical changes associated with their addiction and so they can spend time getting high away from any concerned loved one who might intervene.

    As an addict starts to lose interest in their former loved ones, they may also start spending time around new friends who share their interest in drugs or alcohol and who they can trust not to question their substance use.

    1. Drug Abuse Is Their Top Priority

    Along with avoiding their family and friends, a person who is struggling with addiction may start neglecting their other interests and responsibilities, even to the extent of neglecting their personal hygiene as all free time is subsumed into acquiring and abusing addictive drugs.

    This is especially true of people have become physically dependent on drugs or alcohol. As is explained in more depth by this breakdown from the National Institute On Drug Abuse, this personality change is one that has a clear physiological as well as psychological cause that is essential to understanding addiction.

    Though substance abuse initially has the affect of creating a high by stimulating the brain’s pleasure center, over time, repeated drug abuse causes changes to the prefrontal cortex that lead the addicted person to feel as if they “need” drugs just to feel normal.

    This creates a vicious cycle of a person using more and more drugs in order to achieve their usual high, or even just to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms. Once someone has reached this point in their addiction, treatment is usually necessary to break the cycle of addictive behavior and to assist the person in developing the emotional regulation skills that they need to achieve recovery.

Treatment Options For Drug and Alcohol Abuse At Reco Intensive

Though watching loved ones go through extreme personality changes is incredibly difficult, the good news about these negative effects of substance use disorder is that most of them are reversible once the person achieves abstinence from substances.

At Reco Intensive, our treatment team can help you or a loved one to conquer addiction with a mix of scientifically backed treatment modalities like cognitive and dialectical behavioral therapy, holistic treatment options like yoga and expressive arts therapy, and newer cutting edge treatment approaches like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy) and neuro-integration.

If you or a loved one is ready to seek treatment for their addiction and would like to learn more about our Delray Beach treatment center, feel free to call us online at 844.955.3042 or to contact us online anytime here. There’s no time to waste in getting back on the road to a better life and a brighter future.

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