An important part of determining addiction is the ability to differentiate addiction and heavy or problem drug/alcohol use. The main difference is that people grow out of heavy drinking/drug use with age and maturity. If someone has addiction they will never grow out of it. These two things may look very similar and often may not become distinguishable until years of drug and alcohol abuse. Here are some of the unique and tell-tale signs of addiction.
Identifying Signs of Addiction
Tolerance: Taking increasingly larger amounts of the drug to get the desired effect. In alcoholics this may mean an increase in the amount of drinks needed to get drunk. In their early 20’s perhaps the alcoholic only needed 5 or 6 beers to get drunk. Now, in their 30’s they regularly drink 10 or more beers to get drunk.
Physiological Dependence: A physical reliance upon a drug caused by prolonged and continual usage. Many drugs can cause a physical dependence upon them, for example: alcohol, opiates, cocaine, etc. If an addict tries to stop using a drug ‘cold-turkey’ they can experience withdrawal symptoms, ranging from nausea to seizures.
Mental Obsession: Emotional significance attached to a drug that keeps the substance in their thoughts almost constantly. Addiction includes the element of obsession. This means that the thought of getting or using drugs creeps up into their mind often. When they are without their drugs or alcohol an addict will often think about the next time they be able to get them.
Using Despite Consequences: Continued drug or alcohol use despite the obvious consequences and negative effects of their behavior. Consequences, like arrests or loss of a job, are often not enough to cause the addict to stop. They may cause a brief period of moderation or sobriety, but are not enough to cause lasting recovery. Eventually the consequences get worse and worse until the addict gets sober or ends up in real trouble.
Inability to Control Use: Using more or for a longer period of time than intended. In addiction the user eventually loses the ability to control their drug and alcohol use. They may plan to only drink or drug only a little bit and end up far exceeding the amount. An alcoholic may stop at the bar for one quick beer and end up drinking all night.
Inability to Quit: Even when the addict wants to stop they find that they are not able to on their own. Addiction leads to pain and suffering. After enough of this the addict will get a desire to stop. However the devastating aspect of addiction is that the desire to stop is often not enough. Without the help of professionals or a strong support group, the addict is helpless to their addiction.
These are some of the most certain signs that someone is struggling with addiction. A person does not have to exhibit all of these factors to be an addict. In addition, there are other signs that can hint at addiction. The signs in this post are some of the benchmarks that doctors, therapists, and addiction professionals use to gauge someones tendency to addiction. If you are unsure whether you or someone you love has addiction, call NewBridge Recovery (407-644-1500) for a free phone evaluation