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You might be noticing the signs of increased tolerance to a substance and are wondering, “Am I an addict?”
You are lucky if you are picking up on the signs of addiction at an early stage. The earlier you admit there is a problem and seek treatment, the better the outcome will be. Most people become very immersed into substance use before they realize they have crossed the line into addiction. Learn the signs so you can react quickly and get the help you need.
What is Addiction?
Our brains are prewired to record pleasure, prompting us to return to the source of that pleasure. When we expose ourselves to drugs or alcohol the reward system responds to the dopamine rush. With continued use of the substance the brain becomes used to the influx of its effects, and becomes altered.
Over time, a compulsion to use the substance leads to increased tolerance, more frequent dosing, and dependence. At this stage, when the effects of the substance begin to wear off the person will feel sick. These withdrawal symptoms show that the person has become enslaved by the substance.
Addiction is the state arrived at when the person keeps using the substance, despite the mounting negative effects. Addiction involves the presence of both chemical dependence and psychological dependence.
Addiction is the most severe form of a substance use disorder. As with other types of disease, addiction is a chronic, relapsing, and progressive disease. Many factors play a possible role in addiction. These include genetic, social, psychological, biological, and environmental sources that can increase the risk of addiction.
About 25%-50% of people with a substance use disorder have a severe, chronic disorder. There is a progression of the disease, and relapses when making attempts to abstain. Someone with the disease of addiction will need to engage in ongoing, continuing treatment in order to manage it. Treatment involves detox, rehab, medical support, and ongoing continuing care efforts.
How Do You Know If You Are an Addict?
The disease of addiction is not static and does evolve over time. As tolerance goes up, more of the substance will be required to obtain the desired effects. These effects might include pain relief, euphoria, or relaxing effects. As the person seeks to achieve these prior results, they become addicted to the substance.
The telltale signs of addiction include:
- Loss of interest in hobbies and past-times.
- Avoids social events
- Lies about the use of the substance.
- Hides drugs or alcohol around the house.
- Engage in high-risk behaviors, such as driving under the influence.
- Legal problems.
- Doctor shopping.
- Unable to limit substance use, or to stop, even when wanting to.
- Obsessed about having enough of the substance on hand.
- Neglecting obligations in favor of substance use.
- Increased drug or alcohol cravings.
- Keep using the substance despite mounting problems.
- Having chronic sleep problems.
- Sudden weight loss or gain.
- Neglects personal hygiene.
- Changes in appearance, bloated.
- Health problems caused by substance abuse.
- Withdrawal symptoms when substance is not available.
The Dangers of Addiction
When someone develops a pattern of substance abuse it has a profound impact on all aspects of their life. The chronic substance use will eventually contribute to a long list of adverse events. These might include:
- Job loss.
- Financial hardship.
- Harms relationships.
- Impairs psychological health.
- Impairs cognitive function.
- Causes health issues, such as heart disease, cancer, liver disease, kidney disease.
- Leads to aggressive or violent behavior.
- DUI arrest and other legal problems.
- Loss of custody of children.
- Loss of life.
In addition to the adverse impact that addiction has on someone’s life, it also affects family, friends, community, and society.
Risk of Overdose
The most serious danger posed by substance abuse is the risk of a fatal overdose. In recent years, the risk of experiencing an overdose has risen sharply due to the presence of the deadly drug, fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a highly potent opioid that is flooding across the border from foreign labs. It is at least 50 times more potent than heroin. People are not aware that they are buying drugs that contain fentanyl, take their usual dose, and then, sadly, die.
But an overdose can occur no matter which substance is involved. Some may take multiple drugs or mix drugs with alcohol, or just lose track of dosing. In fact, the CDC reports a record number of drug overdoses in 2020, with 93,000 lives lost.
Getting Help for an Addiction
Treatment of addiction requires a multi-pronged approach, which will be designed for the person during the intake process. During intake, the clinical staff conducts a thorough assessment. Using this data, a tailored treatment plan is devised.
Treatment will include:
- Detox. Detox is the first step of the journey, where the body expels the toxins from the system.
- Psychotherapy. Therapies include CBT, DBT, contingency management, and MET are employed.
- Peer or family group sessions. Small group therapy sessions focus on sharing and discussing topics related to recovery.
- Education. Life skills, coping tools, and relapse prevention equip you for recovery.
- Nutrition and Fitness. You will learn how a healthy diet and getting enough exercise will enhance rehab results.
- Holistic methods. You will engage in techniques that promote stress reduction. These might include yoga, mindfulness, deep breathing, and massage therapy.
- 12-Step work. A.A. themes are often included in the rehab program.
- Aftercare. Post-rehab actions that support sustained sobriety include sober living housing, social support, and outpatient therapy.
While true that addiction is a disease, it is also true that, like many diseases, it can be managed. Recovery success depends on making a lifelong commitment to sobriety and wellness. If you are wondering, “Am I an addict,” chances are you could use some help.
Journey Hillside Provides Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment
If you are aware you’ve become addicted to a substance, Journey Hillside is here to guide you back to wellness. Using a wide range of evidence-based techniques, our caring team will help you overcome the disease of addiction. Call us today at (877) 414-1024.