This past week, we learned that country star Mindy McCready ended up committing suicide. As authorities go through their reports and autopsy performed, much of the speculation of why she did this circulates around substance abuse. With this being such a sad event, lets touch on the subject of how to help someone who may be struggling with mental health issues and who may turn to substance abuse as a way of escape. Sometimes, you may not be able to recognize the signs, but with this article, we hope to help you be able to reach out to those around you.

Many times, people begin to look for ways to escape the stress in their life. This can usually be something from a vacation, to a day at the beach, or even a calming day at the spa. For others, this escape can lead to substance abuse. If someone does not know how to handle what is going on in a safe way or seek out the help they need through friends, family, or counselors, it could go a very wrong way.

What are some of the signs you should look for? How can you reach out and help this person? What if they don’t want help? Some of these are easier answered than others but here are some things to remember:

1. This persons eyes may appear bloodshot more often then normal and they may have drastically smaller or larger pupils.

2. If this person suddenly has weight gain or loss that is of significance and you notice that their sleeping or eating habits have changed, this may be a sign. They may also begin to have an increased lack of caring how they appear in general (ie: personal grooming habits).

3. Withdrawn and not wanting to participate as much as they used to, or a sudden increase in social activity to the extreme. This may include taking up new and dangerous social activities, or they may stop participating in hobbies that they used to find joy and pleasure in.

4. They may have a drop in motivation, increased mood swings, become more irritable or have angry outbursts. This could include things such as getting into trouble more (ie: fights, trouble with the law, slips, falls, or blacking out).

5. They begin to seem more paranoid of the things around them and act as if they fear anything that could happen to them.

These are just some of the signs to watch for, but substance abuse is not a joke. If you think a friend or family member may be experience this and you feel safe enough to confront them about it, talk to them. Never put yourself in a dangerous situation though and contact someone to help you if you believe the situation is going too far or if you fear this person may be a danger to themselves or others. Above all, know that there is help out there and many people are more than happy to help.

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Marta Rocha

About the Author: Marta Rocha is a Mental Health Counselor. Marta is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and English. Marta Rocha is specialized in the areas of Marriage Counseling, Family Issues, Stress Management, Leadership Training, Anxiety, Depression, Sports Psychology, Grief, and Substance Abuse & Addictions. Marta Rocha has 12 years of experience in sales & marketing, advertising, promotions, management, and professional development. Her professional affiliations are with the American Counseling Association, and the American Association of Christian Counselors.

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