Drug and alcohol use in this country is on the rise, with over 23 million Americans addicted. To put that into clearer perspective, that’s one in every ten people in the United States over the age of 12 that are currently struggling with substance abuse.
But what is addiction exactly, and how can we recognize the symptoms?
Drug addiction, or substance use disorder, is the psychological and physiological need to continue using a substance, in spite of the fact that it is negatively impacting your relationships and life.
While each individual is unique and may not display all of these symptoms, the following are ways you can recognize addiction in loved ones before it takes over.
1. Physical Dependence
Over time, individuals build up a tolerance to the drug and must do more of it to feel the same effects. Changes in physiology (withdrawal) can make them feel bad and, when it comes to functioning “normally,” it can be almost impossible without the drug in their system.
2. Neglecting Responsibilities
Choosing drugs or alcohol over meeting personal obligations and responsibilities is one of the biggest signs of addiction. Being late in picking up a child from school because an individual is buying drugs, or calling in sick to work to stay home and get high all day are classic signs the addiction is taking precedence over adult obligations.
3. Developing Unhealthy Friendships
The phrase “like attracts like” is applicable when it comes to addiction. When individuals begin experimenting with new substances, they often find themselves spending time with others who have similar habits. Soon, that person is spending all of their time with people who may encourage these unhealthy habits.
There are some individuals who, alternatively, choose to withdraw and isolate themselves in an attempt to hide their drug use from friends and family. Isolation is also a result of depression, anxiety, and paranoia.
5. Poor Judgement
Addiction causes people to partake in risky behavior. Addicts may begin lying, stealing, engaging in unsafe sex, and even selling drugs themselves. These behaviors are unsafe for their physical and mental wellbeing, and may even land them in jail.
Many addicts may not recognize they are exhibiting these telltale signs. In these instances, friends and family may need to encourage them in getting the help they desperately need. If you feel that you or a loved one is currently addicted to drugs or alcohol, please explore treatment options so you or they can get the help they need to overcome their addiction struggles.