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Mon., Sep 25, 2017
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Health And Wellbeing - Drug and Alcohol Abuse

A drug is “a substance that alters the way in which the body and mind works.”
Drug abuse is “the overindulgence in, and dependence upon, a psychoactive drug leading to effects that are detrimental to the individual’s physical or mental health, or the welfare of others.”
Health risk attached to the use of drugs include –

  • Increased risk of developing cancers
  • Depression or other mental health problems
  • Brain damage
  • Vascular disease

Social risks attached to the use of drugs include –

  • Financial difficulties
  • Effects on family, friends and wider community
  • Crime

Drinking heavily persistently can lead to a range of social, psychological and medical problems which may include –

  • Dependence
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Irritability
  • Cancer of the mouth
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiac arrests

Drug Abuse – The Signs

Physical

Behavioural

Psychological

Bloodshot eyes/pupils larger or smaller than usual

Absenteeism/fall in performance

Unexplained change in personality or attitude

Changes in appetite/sleep patterns

Financial problems

Sudden mood swings/irritability/angry outbursts

Deterioration in physical appearance

Engaging in secretive/suspicious behaviour

Periods of unusual hyperactivity/agitation/giddiness

Unusual smells on breath/body/clothing

Change in friends/hobbies

Lack of motivation/lethargic

Tremors/slurred speech

Getting into trouble (fights/accidents/illegal activities

Appears fearful/anxious/paranoid with no reason

Alcohol Abuse – The Signs

  • Repeatedly neglecting responsibilities at home/work – example – performing poorly at work, neglecting children, skipping out of commitments because of being hung-over.
  • Using alcohol in situations where it’s physically dangerous – example – drinking and driving or mixing alcohol with prescription medication against doctor’s orders.
  • Getting into trouble with the law – example – getting arrested for driving under the influence or drunk and disorderly conduct.
  • Continuing to drink even though your alcohol use is causing problems in your relationships – example – fighting with family because they dislike how you act when you drink.

What to Do ….

  • If you witness a friend/co-worker drinking excessively or under the influence of drugs, intervene.  This may involve a simple action such as calling a taxi to take the person home.  Although this may seem intrusive, you might prevent the person’s immediate exposure to personal injury or a serious accident.
  • Once the friend/co-worker is restored to full control, you might want to have a talk with him or her and give the person feedback on their behaviour.
  • Offer support but do not assume the role of counsellor.  Helping someone manage drug or alcohol abuse requires professional expertise.  The journey to recovery may be a long road.  Taking on too much responsibility may mean jeopardising a good friendship and imposing a serious burden for which you are not prepared.
  • It may be necessary to express concerns to the individual’s line manager or human resource department. 
  • Try not to think of this as a betrayal, but as an indication of concern for your friend/co-worker’s welfare.

General Information

    • St. Angela’s College’s drug/alcohol abuse policy is accessible on the College portal.
    • Don’t worry – recognising that you or a friend/co-worker is vulnerable to drug/alcohol abuse or is dealing with addiction is always the first step. 
    • Being proactive, offering help or giving advice will let the individual know that they do not have to deal with the problem alone.
    • Keeping yourself informed and visiting websites which will provide information on how to cope with drug/alcohol abuse is very important.
    • Some helpful websites are –

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