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Recognizing signs of addiction may vary from person to person, but there are 7 main ways to recognize signs of addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease. Someone is considered addicted when they continue their drug or alcohol use even after experiencing negative consequences to their life. Addiction is also considered a brain disorder. It involves changes to the brain circuits that control reward, stress, and self-control. Even after becoming sober, those changes may have long-lasting effects.
Addiction can also be a lot like other chronic diseases, such as heart disease, lung disease, and even diabetes. All can change the normal functioning of organs in the body, have serious consequences, and can be preventable, and treatable. But, if left untreated, they can be lifelong and could possibly lead to death. Depending on the risk factors for addiction, and how long someone goes untreated, depending on how they recover.
There are common signs of a substance use disorder or alcoholism, and knowing them can help determine if someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Those signs are loss of control, relationship problems, physical changes, changes in behavior and mood, doctor shopping, and red flag behavior.
Loss of control means someone is using and it is not in their control to stop. They may stop for a few days at a time but essentially it is too hard for them to stay away long. Typically when someone has lost control of their drug or alcohol use, their tolerance has become too high to manage, their personal relationships are suffering, and their life is in a tailspin.
Relationship problems are another huge sign of an addiction. Getting high is the top priority, above anyone else’s feelings or needs. The relationship with oneself becomes damaged, as well. Their own personal needs, wants, and desires take a back seat to finding their drug of choice or alcohol to get the buzzed feeling they crave. When addicted, nothing is more important than their next high, not even their most treasured relationships.
Common physical signs that can be hard to ignore when someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol:
Mood and behavior changes happen off and on throughout the addiction cycle. It may start by noticing someone needs drugs or alcohol to sleep, or just relax. Noticing mood swings are also a big warning sign of addiction. Being ecstatic one day, and completely devastated the next are common mood swings an addict can experience.
Behaviors like becoming more reclusive, or wanting to avoid certain social engagements are signs that someone might be hiding something. Typically, someone in the throes of addiction will want to keep their loss of control a secret. It could be because they are ashamed, but it could also be because they don’t want anyone to be able to stop them from doing what they are doing.
Doctor shopping is when someone goes to several doctors, telling them similar stories, and then filling prescription medications from multiple pharmacies. Addicts tend to do this when a doctor has started to question why they ran out of medication quicker than they should have, or refuse to refill a prescription.
Red flag behaviors and signs can vary vastly. But some common red flags to be on the lookout for are:
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If someone is showing signs of addiction, getting help right away is the best chance of successful, long-term recovery. It may seem like a bad idea to confront the person, but if it is done in a loving way while showing support instead of anger, it could help them recognize how far they are into their addiction. Once they recognize and can admit they are in need of help, calling Agape Detox in Port St. Lucie, FL is an amazing first step in the recovery process. We can help with an individual plan, and answer any questions that may come up.