All over the world, there are millions of people suffering from an addiction, but the suffering also affects those closet to them too. It is a problem that is getting bigger and bigger every day, in spite of the tireless work of various governments and agencies. Drug addiction is a common problem, and its effects know no boundaries. Addicts can be young, old, rich and poor. However, illegal drugs are not the only problem, as people can become addicted to prescription drugs too. Furthermore, alcohol, gambling, tobacco, and inhalants can also be the reason for dependence. There are many signs which indicate a person has an addiction and knowing what these are mean you will be able to help.
What is an Addiction?
The official definition is that addiction is a chronic disease. It affects a number of the brain’s functions, primarily those related to reward, memory and motivation. A person suffering from addiction will desire a particular substance or type of behavior. The desire will be completely overwhelming, and other areas of their life will be ignored. Drug addiction is a problem that regularly hits the news, but there are many other types of addiction.
Types of Addiction
It is most common for addiction to be associated with particular substances. For example:
- Drugs, both legal and illegal.
- Tobacco or nicotine.
- Prescription medication.
- Dangerous inhalants such as spray paints and other types of aerosol products.
Behavioral addictions are a serious problem too but receive far less recognition. Examples include:
- Video games.
- Internet or media usage.
Both types of dependency can cause serious problems, not just for the addict but for those around them. Whatever the type, it is important to recognize the signs and get help for the person in question.
Signs of an Addiction
A person who is addicted to a particular substance, whether it is alcohol, drugs or nicotine, is unable to control their use of that substance, even though it may be causing them harm. It can often be the case that the person does not even realize the harm. Very strong cravings are associated with substance dependence, and it can be very difficult for the addict to quit without specialist help. There are organizations around the world that can assist, for example, Georgia state funded rehab centers. However, the addiction first has to be recognized. Signs of addiction include:
- Inability to stop taking the substance.
- Withdrawal symptoms, including moodiness, depression, anger, and poor focus.
- Change in personality.
- A decline in personal health.
- Getting into trouble with the law.
- Relationship problems.
- Obsessive behavior.
- Excessive risk-taking.
- Financial problems.
The Risks of Becoming an Addict
Addiction can affect anyone, across all walks of life. Young and old, male and female are all at risk of becoming an addict. There are, however, a number of factors that can increase the risk. A person with a close relative who is an addict will be at a higher risk of developing an addiction problem. An alcoholic, for example, is six times more likely to have a blood relative who is also alcohol dependent. Males are twice as likely to have a drug problem than females. Suffering from mental illness also increases the risk. Furthermore, peer pressure and loneliness can also be factors.
Diagnosing an Addiction
If you suspect a friend or family member has a problem with addiction, you should persuade them to speak with their GP. Offering to go with them will be beneficial. During the appointment, the GP will ask them a number of questions. They will want to know about the substance or behavior, such as how often, the effects and whether they feel they have a problem. If it is decided there is an addiction problem, the patient will be referred to a specialist. Further evaluation will be required, and this will likely include a blood test. Certain criteria will also have to be met. In the US they use a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association. It is called the DSM, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Other countries will have their own way of diagnosing an addiction.
Taking the first step and admitting there is a problem is vital before seeking help. All over the world, there are various support groups and professional services that can be approached for help. In the Philippines, there are community-based treatment and rehabilitation resources that include an app for professionals to use when assessing those using drugs and where to refer them for interventions.
Treatments offered will depend on factors such as the type of addiction and how it is affecting the patient. It could include an inpatient or outpatient program or a combination of both, counseling, medication, attending a self-help group or pairing with a sponsor.
Problems Associated with Addictions
There are a number of issues commonly associated with addiction. It can affect a person’s life in a variety of ways. Problems with health are the most obvious, and these can include mental, emotional and physical health. Certain drugs taken in high doses are extremely dangerous and could result in death. The risk of developing HIV/AIDS or hepatitis increases if a person injects drugs. Instances of suicide and accidental injuries or death are also higher among drug or alcohol addicts. A person’s relationships will suffer and can lead to family breakups. Many neglected children have one or more of their parents with an addiction problem. Suffering from addiction can make it difficult to hold down a job and can mean you find yourself with nowhere to live. An addict will often resort to crime in order to make sure they always have a supply. It means that there are often problems with the police.
Suffering from an addiction can be a heavy burden to bear. If you can recognize the signs in someone you love and care for, you are in a better position to encourage them to seek help. Recognizing there is a problem is the first step along the road to recovery. Being there for them and holding their hand as they recover will be the best way to help them.
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