How to Spot the Warning Signs of Addiction

Addiction isn’t limited to those born into poverty or affluence. It’s an affliction that affected about 21.5 Americans in 2014 alone. Are you or a loved one at risk?

Lauren’s Story

“I wanted to be selfish because that was the only way I could escape the pain, but I didn’t think about how it was affecting anybody else. It was a prison that I built for all of us.”

Lauren didn’t find her way to drugs through peer pressure or teenage curiosity. Instead, she found herself abusing her pain medication after a failed attempt to relieve the pain of her endometriosis caused damage to her spine.

She found herself in her early 20’s using a wheelchair and a walker to get around and she was in constant pain. She began taking large doses of opiates in order to knock herself out for 16 hours at a time. Her behavior landed her in the hospital. She realized the impact of her behavior on herself and her family.

It was time to set them free and it was finally time to set myself free,” she said. “For the first time I saw how desperate my family was to get me back.”

Signs of Addiction

While Lauren never abused heroin or cocaine, she believes it was likely her next step if her family had not hosted an intervention. While the signs and symptoms of addiction can vary according to addictive disorder, its main symptom is a problematic pattern of use which leads to distress and impairment.

According to Medical News Today, a person who has an addiction is unable to control their use of a specific substance. They will keep using the substance even though it’s proving to be harmful for them. This is likely because with addiction often comes powerful cravings as well as powerful withdrawal symptoms which can leave the individual physically ill.

Physiological Impact of Addiction

Addiction doesn’t only affect a person’s physical health. It can also have dire consequences for their mental health as well. In some cases, the person may become obsessed with the substance and focus all their mental energy on how and when they can get their next ‘fix’.

This can lead to an increase in risky behavior to get the substance. Whether they begin to steal in order to pay for their drug of choice or even trade sex for money or drugs. In addition, they can also fall into a mindset where they believe that they ‘need’ the substance to deal with their problems.

The Signs You Are Ready to Quit

Contrary to the popular belief, you do not need to wait until you reach rock bottom before seeking treatment. Many people come to treatment due to a court order, but others find their way to treatment on their own. There are often some signs in their life that they are ready to begin working on their sobriety.

You May be Ready to Seek Treatment if:

  • You notice that your use of substances is beginning to affect the relationships around you: It could be that you are spending less time around ‘sober’ people, you may have argued about your substance use or you may have been caught stealing or lying and they no longer want to spend time with you.
  • You don’t like who you have become: Are you lying to those around you? Is your drug of choice more important than your friends or family? Alcohol and drugs can change your behavior and make you into someone you can no longer recognize. Substance use can increase feelings of depression, anger, anxiety and frustration.
  • You recognize that you need help: This may have come in the form of a close call of an accident or with law enforcement. Others realize they need to seek outside intervention after the loss of their job or an important relationship.

What Does itMean to Detox?

One of the first steps to sobriety is to detox from drugs or alcohol. There are several different ways to detox.  Methods can vary from holistic approaches that rely on massage or meditation to help with symptoms, medically supervised detox which may involve using drugs to help with withdrawal symptoms and going ‘cold turkey’.

Trying to detox without medical supervision can be dangerous. Before starting a detox, it’s recommended that an individual get a medical evaluation. It will consider the patient’s overall health, substance they abused and the length of time they have been using, before deciding the best way to move forward. There are many options for detox that allow a patient to remain at home, but still get medical supervision and medication if necessary.