Heather Fisher Professional Drug & Alcohol Interventionist

Other Substances

Substance addiction can be defined simply as physical dependence on a chemical substance. The dependency and lack of control in needing and seeking out the substance pose a great negative impact on the individual’s life and their ability to function in relationships, work, school, and in taking care of themselves. Even with immense physical, emotional, and other negative consequences a person addicted to substances will not be able to stop using on their own accord.

Individuals struggling with substance abuse problems may experience distorted thinking and behaviors. Chronic substance use can cause changes in brain function and structure causing people to have intense cravings, personality changes, and other abnormal behaviors. Addiction impacts the part of the brain that stimulates the reward system and areas that relate to learning, memory, decision making, and impulse control. These changes can last long after the immediate effects of intoxication. There are a wide variety of substances that an individual can be addicted to including heroin, opiates, benzodiazepines, meth, cocaine, Adderall, psychedelics, and other prescription medications. Substance addiction is a serious illness often resulting in death due to accidental overdose when left untreated.

Recent Addiction Statistics

  • According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 19.7 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2017
  • 8.5 million American adults suffer from both a substance abuse and mental health diagnosis, or co-occurring disorders.
  • About 5.1 million young adults ages 18 to 25 are battling a substance use disorder
  • Of the 2.3 million people in American prisons and jails, more than 65% meet the criteria for addiction
  • 70,000 Americans died from opioid overdose in 2019

Drug Addiction Screening

Adapted from DSM-5
Responses should be based on behavior over the past 90 days

NOTE: Addiction is progressive, chronic and 100% recoverable when treated.

Disclaimer: This screening is not designed to make a diagnosis or take the place of a professional diagnosis
consultation. Use this brief screening tool to help determine if further action is recommended.
For help in selecting the proper level of treatment in your area please contact our office.

Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse

If a loved one or someone you know may be struggling with a substance addiction there may be some clear physical and behavioral signs to confirm this. Oftentimes individuals in active addiction function from a place of denial, constantly being dishonest and denying their use, or minimizing it greatly.

Physical Signs

  • Inability to sleep, awake at unusual times, unusual laziness.
  • Loss of or increased in appetite, changes in eating habits
  • Cold, sweaty palms; shaking hands.
  • Slowed or staggering walk; poor physical coordination.
  • Needle marks on the lower arm, leg, or bottom of feet.
  • Tremors or shakes of hands, feet, or head.
  • Deterioration of hygiene or physical health

Behavioral Signs

  • Drop-in grades at school or performance at work;
    skips school or is late for school.
  • Change in activities or hobbies.
  • Chronic dishonesty.
  • Sudden oversensitivity, temper tantrums, or resentful behavior.
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • General lack of motivation, energy, self-esteem
  • Change in habits at home; loss of interest in family and family activities.
  • Paranoia

Signs of Intoxication, by Specific Drug

It may be a challenge to understand what substances the individual in your life is struggling with. Different drugs bring on different feelings and have a variety of symptoms post- intoxication. Some of these symptoms may last days or longer.

Substance users are at high risk of accidental overdose, which often results in a fatality. Knowing what substances your loved one is addicted to will help you find the proper placement and care to meet their needs.

Marijuana: Glassy, red eyes; loud talking and inappropriate laughter followed by sleepiness; a sweet burnt scent; loss of interest, motivation; weight gain or loss.

Alcohol: Clumsiness; difficulty walking; slurred speech; sleepiness; poor judgment; dilated pupils.

Cocaine, Crystal Meth, and Other Stimulants: Hyperactivity; euphoria; irritability; anxiety; excessive talking followed by depression, excessive sleeping at irregular times; go long periods of time without eating or sleeping; dilated pupils; weight loss;

Heroin: Needle marks; sleeping at unusual times. The effects of heroin include sweating; vomiting; coughing and sniffling; twitching; loss of appetite; contracted pupils; no response of pupils to light. Possession of a white or brown powder

Hallucinogens: Dilated pupils; bizarre and irrational behavior including paranoia, aggression, hallucinations; mood swings; detachment from people; slurred speech; confusion.

Getting Help For Addiction

Detoxification: The first step for someone struggling with substance abuse is often to go to a medically assisted detoxification program. In a detox setting individuals are monitored by medical staff as well and therapeutic clinicians with around-the-clock care. The purpose of inpatient detox is to eliminate all substances from the person’s system in a safe and controlled environment. Many drugs, alcohol, and other prescription medications can evoke withdrawal symptoms when a person stops using them after a period of time. Withdrawal symptoms if not monitored can bring on seizures, heart attacks, tremors, vomiting, and in some cases death. It is important to get an individual with substance use disorder into a program to prevent fatal side effects from stopping use.

Inpatient and Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Treatment: There are both inpatient and outpatient options for your loved one to attend after completing detox and becoming stabilized. Choosing the right level of care is dependent upon the individual and what their needs are. Most drug treatment programs offer a variety of different treatment modalities proven effective in treating addiction. Some highly regarded therapies used in addiction treatment are listed below

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): is a form of psychological treatment that has been proven to be effective in treating a wide range of mental health problems. Numerous research studies suggest CBT leads to significant improvements in functioning and quality of life. CBT is a form of talk therapy that usually takes place in an individual setting with a counselor, therapist, or social worker. CBT skills can be taught in group therapy as well depending upon the treatment center where services are received. The modality focuses on changing destructive and disturbing patterns of thinking that negatively influence a person’s life.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Its purpose is to identify and change negative thinking patterns and push for positive behavioral changes. It teaches patients to cope with and change unhealthy behaviors. In regard to treating addiction, DBT has been known to be extremely effective. DBT therapies help the client acknowledge the ineffectiveness of old behaviors and take a leading role in goal setting and pioneering change in their life.

EMDR Therapy: EMDR Therapy can really work in helping individuals to process past trauma and relieve negative symptoms of other mental health problems. At this time EMDR is a highly regarded treatment for PTSD and treating depressed individuals.

Adventure Therapy Program: Adventure Therapy can be a powerful approach to treating anxiety, depression, PTSD, eating disorders, and addiction Adventure therapy fosters growth and development of an individual’s psychological and physical wellbeing through hands-on activities. Adventure therapy often takes place in an outdoor setting or in nature with the goal to evoke change by utilizing collaborative games, problem-solving activities, and high adventure-based outdoor activities.

Some different types of adventure therapy activities include:

  • Equine Therapy
  • Rock Climbing
  • Ropes Courses
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking

How can Heather Fisher Recovery Services Help?

As an interventionist who has been in the field for many years, I personally vet all facilities before I refer you to them. The most important part of making an intervention successful is finding the best match between the client and the treatment facility. I have spent a large amount of my time in practice touring facilities and interviewing staff, before recommending any family to a program. Based on pre-screening, presenting symptoms provided insurance, and geographical location, we will research and recommend three JCAHO or CARF accredited treatment facilities to provide care for and treat you or your loved one, at the appropriate level of care needed.

I am not in the contract nor do I receive benefits, kickbacks, or compensations from any treatment facilities for referring to them. That’s illegal, unethical, and I would risk our licensing in doing so. Very simply put, if I wouldn’t recommend it for my loved one, I won’t recommend it for your loved one.