Symptoms of drug addiction
Drug addiction is a cycle.
It starts with the introduction of the drug and progresses into dependence and full blown addiction.
There are gradients to this process and each individual is different.
There is a difference between drug abuse and drug addiction, and that differences hinges on the ability of the user to choose.
When a person reaches the point at which they can no longer choose to not use the drug, they are addicted.
That is a simple definition, but an accurate one.
Many don’t want treatment
The last person to admit that there is an addiction problem is the addict.
In order to get their life back on track and avoid the complications of long-term addiction, the only answer is treatment.
That is sometimes much easier said than done because the addict will deny having an addiction. They will always say they can handle it, or if they do admit to having a problem it’s their problem and not yours.
They don’t want treatment because treatment means they can’t use the drug.
Drug addiction is a downward cycle
Addiction is a cycle, so there are things to watch for to see if someone you know, or someone you love is in trouble.
First and foremost, if you know them well you will likely notice a change.
It can be as subtle as becoming a little moody, to as obvious as extreme weight loss or a serious decline in health.
As the disease of drug addiction progresses, the drug of choice will become the focal point of the addict’s life, so they will always make sure they have a supply of drug on hand.
There is often a measure of deception involved in being an addict, so they might slip away to get their fix, leaving the family or friends for a while before reemerging.
Some addicts may prefer solitude over any contact with family and friends, spending most of their time alone in their room. These are still sometimes subtle changes, but significant ones.
The drug gains control of the brain
As the drug takes control of their lives addicts will begin to miss work, calling in “sick” on a more regular basis.
Teenagers may lose interest in their schoolwork, or stop hanging with their friends.
The disease makes addicts do things they otherwise would never think of doing, like stealing money from their own family.
An addict who craves drugs may even take medicine away from a family member.
I once knew a woman who took pain medication from her own mother, who was suffering with cancer. They will steal money, household objects, and electronics, anything they can sell for money to get their drug of choice.
Extreme mood swings
People will become paranoid at times, or they have extreme mood swings and are so easily irritated. In some cases, addicts can become violent and commit unspeakable acts under the influence of their drug.
Symptoms of drug addiction can sometimes be very obvious.
An alcoholic, for example, will keep drinking, even well beyond the point of intoxication.
A visit to their room is likely to reveal empty bottles.
But those addicted to other drugs may conceal it better they will try to hide the symptoms of drug addiction.
There are tell-tale signs, such as drug paraphernalia—a spoon with burn marks, tin foil, a glass pipe, shoestrings to tie off an arm for injecting the drug, or syringes.
Addiction causes MANY health problems
Long-term addiction is going to cause health problems.
Unlike other drugs, alcohol gets into every pour of the body and lingers.
Alcoholics can literally drink themselves to death, ignoring all of the warning signs to the point where there is massive liver and kidney failure, heart problems, respiratory arrest and a host of other major medical issues.
Even after being told they are going to die, alcoholics will insist on drinking.
Addicts, depending on their drug of choice, will sleep too much, or maybe not at all.
They might have a voracious appetite, or go days without eating.
They might be high energy, or listless.
Take away the drug and they will go into withdrawal, which is another set of symptoms of drug addiction.
The may experience tremors, dry mouth, sweating, nausea, hallucinations, muscle and bone pain, severe mood swings and can develop involuntary muscle twitches.
The important thing for family and friends is to observe and watch for symptoms of drug addiction.
Family members know their loved ones, so just watching for something that doesn’t fit will likely produce results.
Don’t be afraid to speak up and take action, because you just might be saving a life.
Are you or a family member struggling?
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and Finally Remember:
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
- Matthew 7:7-8
Step 3 may be the most difficult and important of the steps in the program, what is it and why is it needed, this week on Recovery Now!