What Does Addiction Look Like?

Addiction is a complex condition that can be difficult to identify. It is commonly associated with substance abuse, but behavioral addictions, such as gambling, are equally serious. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), addiction is when a person is unable to systematically abstain from a behavior or substance, often at the expense of their mental and physical health. Drug abuse can be difficult to hide for long, as its impact is often dramatic and the person using drugs can quickly spiral out of control.

Changes in behavior, neglect of responsibilities, depletion of financial resources, and involvement in criminal behavior are some of the most obvious signs of a drug problem. Family members, loved ones, and co-workers are often in the best position to recognize a drug problem because they are familiar with the person's behavior and habits. If you suspect that you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction, it can be difficult to know what to do. Lagging behind current trends is the image of an addict as a low-income man in his 20s or 30s, as well as those living on the street.

Depending on many factors, a person struggling with addiction can do everything possible to hide physical signs or treat symptoms with total apathy. The disease of addiction is progressive, meaning that as time goes on, you will exhibit greater tolerance, participate frequently in behavior, and experience intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms. A person who tries to hide addiction can redirect the conversation with arguments or even aggressive mood swings, and distraction methods are also a defensive signal. While the general signs of addiction described above provide some guidance, the following is a breakdown by drug category of signs of prescription drug abuse.

Physical signs of addiction can manifest as side effects from use, during an overdose, or as a result of withdrawal. Alcohol and drug addiction can affect the whole family; symptoms may only be experienced by the person with the addiction while other people may notice the signs. As a result, those who are addicted to alcohol should never try to stop drinking on their own; a medical detox is required. If you discover drugs or drug paraphernalia, talk to your primary care provider or an addiction counselor or specialist for guidance on appropriate ways to handle this difficult situation. An intervention specialist will help your family address addiction with clarity and understanding, and can provide you with invaluable support and advice. While addiction can be treated, in most cases, a person with addiction must want to change for recovery to be successful.

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