Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Tis the season

What will you be for Halloween this year, the typical witch, hobo or superhero? Or will you go for something not so traditional, such as stoned, drunk numb, and self-medicated? Will you meet up with friends to bob for apples, go out on a scavenger hunt and eat good food or will you be at the ER coping with overdose-a friend or your own? Will you enjoy the fun of the holiday or will you be miserable and involved in abusive activities, either as a victim or a perpetrator? Why?

Everything a person does is by choice. A person makes a decision-good or bad-and proceeds to act on that choice, and then must deal with their consequences. Everyone has consequences for their actions. But the important thing to remember is to consider the consequences before you take action and to decide if the possible outcomes are things you can live with.

For example, you know illicit drugs are dangerous, risky. Yes, they affect everyone differently. It’s true you may try something and not be adversely affected. Maybe you wouldn’t become addicted. Maybe you wouldn’t die the first time you abuse a substance. On the other hand, maybe you will be. How will you know? Is it really worth risk? If you know something has the potential to harm or kill you, why would you decide to take that risk?

Do you think you can hide what you are doing, that no one will see the results of your risky choices, the differences in the person you were and the person you become when you abuse substances?

NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc.) provides information about signs and symptoms of substance abuse. Physical signs include eyes that are bloodshot or the pupils are larger or smaller than normal, frequent nosebleeds from snorting, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, sudden weight loss or gain, neglecting hygiene and appearance, unusual smells on breath, body or clothing, shakes, tremors, slurred speech, impaired or unstable coordination.

Behavioral signs include neglecting work or school, loss of interest in people, activities, and other things that you used to enjoy, and frequently getting into trouble. Psychological signs include a change in personality or attitude, sudden mood changes, lack of motivation, inability to focus, appearing “spaced out” or being afraid for no explainable reason.

Drug dependence becomes a problem: more of the drug is required to give the same high you are looking for. As the drugs wear off there are withdrawal symptoms. The abuser can’t control the drugsthe drugs control the user. The user may want to stop, but they just can’t. The user neglects the people and things that used to be important to them because the drugs control them, control their lives. They continue to use the drugs, not necessarily because they want to, but because they can’t quit even though they know how dire their situation is.

Halloween has little to do with an addiction problem. But addiction does change the people who abuse substances, and that is a very serious situation.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues. For more information about our programs, contact us at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468 or by e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. Family Recovery Center is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.