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The Six Most Common Signs of a Substance Abuse Problem
The rate of addiction to alcohol, prescription drugs and illicit substances has grown rapidly in recent years among Americans of all ages and races. Whether or not you or a loved one has already experienced negative consequences resulting from recreational drug or alcohol use, addiction can cause serious and life-altering issues when left unchecked. If you are concerned that a loved one, or even yourself, might have crossed the line between recreational use and full-blown addiction, there are some behavioral warning signs that you can look for. Following are six of the most obvious behavioral signs that someone may be suffering from addiction.
Inability to Limit Consumption
One common sign of addiction is an inability to stop using a substance, despite a desire to do so. Many people facing addiction will tell themselves that they are going to stop drinking or taking drugs, only to lose the willpower to resist their vice. Similarly, self-imposed limits are often ignored, resulting in drinking more or taking higher doses than planned, or using the substance for longer than intended.
Loss of Interest in Other Activities
For many, an increasing reliance on illicit substances leads to neglecting other activities, even ones that used to be an important part of the substance abuser’s life. This could include the pursuit of a hobby, exercise or simply time spent with friends and family. Performance at work or school, and attendance of important events, can also dramatically decrease. In general, as a person’s substance abuse issue grows, their life revolves more and more around their drug of choice, and old interests start to fade away.
Issues in Your Relationships
Conflict in interpersonal relationships with friends, family and coworkers frequently arises as substance use becomes heavier and less controlled. People struggling with addiction often lash out at those close to them, especially when confronted with concerns about their substance use. Coworkers, supervisors and teachers may note a worrisome decline in reliability and performance, and friendships can be lost due to neglect or increasingly bad behavior.
Increase in Tolerance
Over time, the body will adapt to the use of drugs or alcohol. When this happens, a person will need to use more and more of the substance in order to achieve the same effect. With abuse of prescription drugs, for example, this frequently results in taking much larger doses of the medication, more often than the prescription directs, or mixing prescription drugs with alcohol.
Increase in Risky Behavior
As tolerance builds and greater amounts of drugs or alcohol are required to reach the same effect, many people resort to risky behavior in order to obtain more of their ‘drug of choice’. This can include using medication that is prescribed to others, or stealing money or drugs from other people. Sometimes, dangerous behaviors while under the influence can lead to legal troubles, such as arrests for driving under the influence or disorderly conduct.
Symptoms of Withdrawal
Once an individual is physically addicted to drugs or alcohol, stopping use can lead to symptoms of withdrawal. These side effects can be uncomfortable, painful and even dangerous. Common withdrawal symptoms include nausea and vomiting, sleeplessness, fatigue, headaches, loss of appetite, shaking, anxiety, restlessness, sweating, irritability and depression. For those that have become extremely physically dependent on a particular chemical, it is often advised that they seek a medically supervised detox program to ensure the detoxification process doesn’t cause permanent physical damage.
If you have seen these behaviors in a loved one, or perhaps yourself, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. Rehabilitation from drug and alcohol abuse can be difficult, but the sooner that the problem is addressed, the easier it will be to break the chain holding you to your addiction, and get your life back.