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APB Speaker Dr. Nii Addy Shares One Big Warning Sign of Drug Abuse & Where to Get Help

08 Jun 2023

APB Speaker Dr. Nii Addy Shares One Big Warning Sign of Drug Abuse & Where to Get Help 

How can you tell if someone is struggling with addiction or chemical dependency? APB speaker Dr. Nii Addy, Neuroscientist, Yale Professor and Mental Health Advocate, recently shared his thoughts on the subject on the PBS show Healthy Minds With Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein. 

Dr. Addy said one of the red flags is a change in a person’s behavior that is upsetting their everyday life. “If they're no longer engaged in their normal activities, their normal responsibilities and it really becomes disruptive, then that, of course, is a time of concern  … You want to try and make that known to the person and make sure they are actually able to get help,” he said. 

Dr. Addy added the disruption is similar to the signs for someone dealing with mental health challenges, like depression or anxiety. You should ask yourself, Is it “something that is just a minor concern or something bigger that's really disruptive to that person's life?” he said.  

Dr. Addy also spoke about the link between trauma and addiction. He said that researchers have found that trauma and adverse experiences play a very large factor in how likely people are to experience mental health challenges, like depression and anxiety, and how likely they are to use substances or to use them to excess. 

That research, along with a focus on the social and economic factors that also can negatively change brain patterns, can help clinicians treat and prevent substance abuse. He added that the trauma doesn't necessarily have to happen directly to the person to be traumatized. “A person can be traumatized by something that happens to someone else and still has that kind of an effect on them,” Addy said. 

So if you are experiencing mental health challenges or know someone who is, where can you find help? Dr. Addy said one great resource is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The organization offers support groups for both individuals and their family members. “Because we all know that it can be challenging to try and help a loved one walk through some of those mental health challenges,” he said. 

In addition, there is also the Crisis Text Line, which serves people across the United States experiencing any type of crisis and provides free, 24/7 emotional support and information through texting with a live, trained specialist by texting “HOME” to 741741. Or you can call or text 988, which will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 

Dr. Addy is a Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Professor of Cellular and Molecular Physiology and the inaugural Director of Scientist, Diversity, and Inclusion at Yale School of Medicine.  

As the creator and host of powerful town hall events, he has also built unique partnerships between scientists, clinicians, educators, faith leaders, entertainers, professional athletes, and community and mental health advocacy groups. In these engaging town hall conversations, panelists discuss topics at the intersection of neuroscience, mental health, faith, culture and social justice. 

Dr. Addy also hosts the Addy Hour podcast, where he explores the same subjects with community leaders, scientists, professional athletes, entertainers, faith leaders and mental health experts. 

+View Dr. Addy's Full Profile, Video, Speech Topics & More