Nobody plans to become an addict.

Perhaps they try a drug and like how it makes them feel. Then they find themselves overcome with the desire for the substance that they thought they could control. Even the knowledge that the drug can be harmful does not stop their use. Getting and using the drug become’s the be-all-end-all for an addict. They will lie, steal and hurt others without a second thought. Using becomes more important than the need to eat or sleep. The term addiction is often referred to as dependency.

Addiction is a primary, progressive, chronic and potentially fatal disease that changes brain structure and function. A combination of physical, mental, circumstantial and emotional factors may contribute to the condition. The compulsion that is addiction interferes with the responsibilities of ordinary life, from work to relationships and health.

It is all too common, affecting nearly 23 million Americans — approximately 10 percent of the population– of all backgrounds and ages.

More than two-thirds of people with an addiction abuse alcohol. Illegal drugs and prescription drugs are both substances of choice among addicts, with marijuana, opioid pain relievers and cocaine at the top of the list of drugs addicts choose to abuse.

The American Academy of Pain Medicine, American Pain Society and American Society of Addiction Medicine recognize the following definitions of addiction as,

A primary, chronic neurobiological disease with genetic, psychosocial and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. It is characterized by behaviors that include one or more of the following: impaired control over drug use, compulsive use, continued use despite harm, and craving.

And, “…an uncontrollable compulsive behavior caused by alterations of parts of the brain from repeated exposure to high euphoric responses.”

The current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association, defines substance dependence as “when an individual persists in use of alcohol or other drugs despite problems related to use of the substance.”

Medilexicon’s Medical Dictionary defines addiction as the “habitual psychological or physiologic dependence on a substance…or practice that is beyond voluntary control.”

Symptoms of addiction include difficulty with decision-making and thinking, memory loss, and mood swings. It changes how a person thinks, acts and feels.

Signs & Symptoms of Addiction

You can recognize the signs and symptoms of addiction in yourself or others. Addicts will:

  • Act out of character
  • Be angry, have anxiety, depression or restlessness
  • Engage in risky behavior to support their habit
  • Ensure that a supply of the drug is maintained
  • Exhibit denial or lie about their substance use and/or the extent of their behavior
  • Experience changes in their patterns of eating and sleeping
  • Fail in their attempts to quit using
  • Feel sick and shaky when they are not using, experiencing body aches; changes in blood pressure, pulse rate, respiration and temperature; diarrhea; headaches; nausea; seizures; shaking and tremors; sweating
  • Focus increasing time and energy on getting and/or using the drug
  • Gain or lose weight
  • Have problems at school or work stemming from their use of a substance
  • Ignore responsibilities or cutting back on activities previously enjoyed in favor of using
  • Need to use regularly, and in greater quantities than in the past to get the same effect
  • Spend money on a drug that is not affordable
  • Steal or sell items to support their habit
  • Use drugs to forget their problems or relax
  • Withdraw from family and friends

Addiction is Harmful, but Treatable

It is not hard to see how drug and alcohol addiction is harmful to the people with disease as well as the people around them! The physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing of everyone involved is at-risk.

Addiction is an illness that is baffling and corrupting, powerful and persuasive. The malady can be managed, not cured. Treatment and recovery are essential to prevent a disability or premature death.

Help is available for you or the one you care about. Remember that you are not alone! There are a number of treatment options, from rehabilitation to medications, support groups and therapy.

A new future is just ahead of you;

…contact today to find the right treatment facility to help fight the challenges of addiction.