Dose of Reality: Silent addiction

Maybe you've seen it in movies or on TV.

The heroin addict with the belt, a spoon and a lighter, looking for their next fix.

Maybe it’s become too real, and you've seen it in person.

Unfortunately for friends and family of those fighting addiction, the signs aren't always as obvious as Hollywood sometimes makes them seem.

“Family members are often just blown out of the water, they have no idea what to do when their loved ones shows signs of addiction.”

Stephanie Campbell, with Friends of Recovery New York, says there are things you can look for on a large scale - like major changes in behavior.

But what that looks like can vary from person to person... For some, it’s hyperactivity or erratic behavior, and for others, withdrawal from friends and family.

There are also smaller, yet more tangible signs you might not realize could be indicating addiction.

“In terms of heroin use, if you see spoons missing, just out of habit i count the spoons in my utility drawer. Are belts missing, because those are used to tie off.”

Simply recognizing there's a problem - is only the first step.

Talking about it can be difficult both for the person using and those trying to confront them and get them help.

“For decades, the stigma around addiction has made not only the person with addiction afraid to speak out about it and to ask for help, but for family members who feel like - and I talk to parents all the time - who on some level feel they did something to contribute to their child's use.”

Campbell says one way to fight the silent addiction is to listen and be willing to understand.

“It wasn’t until someone looked in my eyes and didn’t look at me with judgement and said’ there’s hope,’ that changed the course of my life. … There’s 23.5 million of us living life in recovery, and I’m one of them, so the power and promise of recovery is absolutely there.”

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