We are living at a time in which an estimated 20.8 million people in the United States are living with a substance use disorder.
Many people don’t understand why or how someone becomes addicted to alcohol or drugs. There are common misconceptions that those struggling with addiction should be able to just quit using, if only they wanted to. A lack of moral principles or willpower is to blame.
These myths could not be more inaccurate … addiction is a complex issue, and quitting takes more than good intentions or strong will. Because alcohol and drugs can actually change the brain to foster compulsive behaviors, for many, treatment and ongoing support are necessary for long-term recovery.
Specific signs of addiction will vary depending on the substance used, but there are signs common to all addictions including;
- Loss of control: Consuming more than they want to, for longer than intended, or despite telling themselves they wouldn’t do it this time around.
- Neglecting other activities: Less time is spent on activities that were once important and enjoyable due to the increase in time spent on alcohol and drugs.
- Risk taking: In order to obtain one’s drug of choice more serious risks are taken – often ones that threaten legal, financial or health.
- Relationship Issues: While struggling with addiction individuals experience anger, sadness, and other strong emotions often times expressing them to those closest to them; particularly if someone is attempting to address their substance use.
- Secrecy: Much effort is put into hiding one’s alcohol or drug use.
- Change in appearance: Serious changes or decline in hygiene or physical appearance.
- Tolerance: As time goes by, a person’s body adapts to a substance leading them to need more and more of it in order to experience the same effects.
- Withdrawal: As the effects of the alcohol or drug wear off, an individual may experience symptoms such as; shakiness or trembling, nausea and vomiting, insomnia, depression, anxiety or jumpiness, irritability, fatigue, loss of appetite, and headaches.
- Continued use despite negative consequences: Even though their addiction is causing problems in their job, relationships, or overall happiness a person continues using.
- Attempts have been made to give up, but were unsuccessful