A Quick Guide to Identifying an Addiction

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An addiction refers to a dependency one has on a specific bodily intake. Most of the time when we claim someone has an addiction it usually means this person is dependent on alcohol or drugs. An addiction is dangerous because it causes a person to believe they can not function without this substance, even if it is causing negative consequences.

According to Psychology Today, “Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work, relationships, or health. Users may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others”.

Many times people who have addictions experience physical or emotional withdrawal when they have stopped using the substance. Symptoms of withdrawal include anxiety, irritability, shakes, sweats, nausea, or vomiting. Majority of addicts have a lack of control when it comes to substance intake. Negative consequences are likely to surface with an over intake of any substance, effecting your mood, self-esteem, health, job, and even family.

The feelings described by addicts tend to be those of uncontrollable desires for a substance. Majority of addicts are willing to suggest negative consequences in order to get more and to continue to feel the high. Most addicts tend to go into denial about how much they depend on the substance.

There are three main factors that your addiction will usually affect:

  1. Social factor – Addiction’s first toll is usually on a person’s social life. Their concentration, mood, and interests will likely change as drug cravings become compulsive. Tension is likely to rise among a family, even if the user hides their addiction. Relationships often change, and eventually an addict may only find comfort when around other people who have the same addiction. Addiction has also been known to pull a person away from human contact, causing them to even abuse substances on an individual basis. Addicts can be at risk for job loss, or divorce. Mental health conditions like depression or social anxiety can develop. The lonelier a person is, the more at risk they are for suicide, and may try to overdose on purpose.
  2. Emotional factor – Emotional effects of addiction can take a drastic toll on a person. Many times they result in depression, anxiety, memory loss, aggression, mood swings, paranoia, and psychosis. The ultimate consequence of substance abuse, of course, is death – either caused directly by a situation such as an overdose or heart attack, or sometimes suicide.
  3. Psychological factor – Addictions can cause changes in the brain, for example mood swings, memory. Addiction can cause an overreaction by the brain to drugs. A person who is addicted might do almost anything—lying, stealing, or hurting people—to keep taking the drug. This could even get the person arrested.
  4. Physical factor – a biological state in which the body adapts to the presence of a drug so that drug no longer has the same effect, otherwise known as a tolerance. Compulsive cravings can prompt physical consequences throughout the body. Most substances will cause a strain on the organs, as well as the respiratory system. Many times physical effects of addiction result in organ damage, hormone imbalance, cancer, prenatal and fertility issues, or HIV/AIDS. In addition chronic use of certain substances can lead to long-term neurological impairment or mental health problems.

Unfortunately majority of the time we see that people only stop using drugs and alcohol when they have suffered enough negative consequences and feel the pain deeply enough to regret it. Many times people judge the severity of their addiction according to their healthy, but there are so many more factors involved than just your physical state of being. If you identify with any of the above factors of an addiction please seek professional help immediately.