Drug addiction has been a steadily growing epidemic in America and around the world for several decades, and it is among the most dangerous conditions known to man. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an estimated 23.5 million Americans aged 12 or older need treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol addiction problem. This number is just under 10% of the American population, and of those individuals, only 11.2% receive treatment in a specialized addiction rehabilitation facility. With numbers as alarming as these, it’s no wonder that each generation produces more addicted individuals than the last.
What is Drug Addiction?
Drug addiction is categorized as the compulsive non-medical use of a drug(s) (illicit, over-the-counter, or prescribed), despite repeated negative consequences as a result of abusing said drug(s). There is an important difference between drug addiction and drug tolerance. Any individual who takes a medication on a regular basis will develop a tolerance to it, and if he or she is taking that medicine as prescribed and in an appropriate and responsible way, without negative consequences, addiction is not indicated. The key factor in determining whether or not an individual is addicted is if he or she is misusing a drug and/or continuing use of a drug despite repeated negative consequences. Some examples of how drugs can be misused, as well as the most common negative consequences resulting from drug use are as follows:
|Drug Misuse||Negative Consequences|
|Crushing and snorting pills of any kind||Contentious or broken relationships as a result of drug use|
|Dissolving and injecting drugs of any kind||Isolation from friends and family to engage in more drug use|
|Doctor shopping to get more of a drug than a single doctor is willing to prescribe||Financial troubles as a result of spending excessive amounts of money to obtain more drugs|
|Using additional drugs to enhance the effects of another||Health problems and complications such as cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, liver disease, etc, as a result of compulsive drug use|
|Skipping doses of a medication in order to take a future “double dose”||Running out of a substance prior to medical justification for a refill from a doctor. This can result in severe and sometimes dangerous withdrawal symptoms|
|Use of any illegal drug||Legal problems coming from illegal purchase or possession of drugs, DUI, or public intoxication charges. Health problems and complications such as cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, liver disease, etc, as a result of compulsive drug use|
There are several more instances of negative consequences associated with drug addiction, and for many addicts, these consequences become a part of normal life, which is the primary factor in what takes some otherwise normal individuals into the depths of despair associated with addiction.
When an individual becomes addicted to drugs, the central focus for that person is getting and using his or her drug(s) of choice, and there is nothing more important in life. This is the inherent insidiousness of addiction, how it changes the way in which an individual thinks and is motivated in life. When doing drugs becomes just as, if not more important than life-sustaining activities like eating and drinking water, an addict’s day begins with using drugs, and nothing else happens until that goal is accomplished.
Signs of Drug Addiction
There are a number of signs of drug addiction that indicate the progressive nature of the disease. No individual strives to become an addict, and most try to hide their addiction from loved ones. However, as addiction progresses the ability of an addict to conceal his or her compulsive drug use decreases drastically. The more loved ones know about the signs of drug addiction, the sooner it can be recognized, and help can be offered. Some signs of drug addiction can include, but are not limited to:
- A noticeable change in friends and associates. New friends are likely drug users and have a completely different appearance and demeanor than previous friends.
- Frequent absences from social and family gatherings for short periods of time
- Severe mood swings and sudden changes in demeanor (switching from quiet and reserved to hyperactive, or from “normal” to seeming to be in a stupor)
- Wearing inappropriate clothing to hide track marks on arms and legs. An individual may wear long sleeves and pants in very hot weather.
- Chemical or alcohol smell on the breath or clothing of an individual
- Sudden and/or frequent financial hardships, with no explanation of where money is going
- Change in appearance and personal hygiene
- Drastic weight loss
- Loss of motivation in life
- Inability to maintain or get a job
- Increased isolation from friends and family
- Discovery of drug paraphernalia or bottles of alcohol in hidden places (such as closets, under mattresses, couch cushions, in vehicles, and/or places of work)
The signs that an individual may be addicted to drugs are often marked by drastic changes in his or her behavior and/or appearance. Despite best efforts to hide addiction, there is little an addict can do to maintain his or her habit while continuing to maintain normal behavior.
Drug Addiction Help
Drug addiction can be devastating in many ways, and one of the most devastating things that come from this horrific disease is denial. Countless addicts have suffered negative consequences as a result of their addiction, and when offered treatment for a better life, refuse it. Confounding as it may be, confronting an addicted individual is not the same as speaking to the real person. Considering the nature of addiction, trying to convince an addict to go to treatment may be likened to dealing with someone who has a split personality. The addiction is the dominant personality that will resist treatment, and the real person under the addiction wants help, but is submissive to the addiction at that time. When this happens, the family of an addict may hear a plethora of what seem to be asinine excuses for refusing treatment, but to the addict, they are all legitimate. Some examples of common excuses given for refusing treatment can be:
- “I can’t leave my dog, cat, bird, hamster, etc.”
- “If I go, I won’t be able to pay my bills, and I’ll lose my house, car, etc.”
- “That’s too long for me to be away from my boy/girlfriend husband/wife”
- “I don’t need help. I’m fine”
- “I will stop when I’m ready. I’m just not ready yet.”
- “I wouldn’t have to do this if you would just leave me alone”
These excuses can go on for hours and days, but the fact of the matter is that no amount of treatment will work for any addict if he or she is not ready to receive sobriety and recovery from addiction.
While many addicts can accept help in the form of treatment as soon as it is offered, it is not an uncommon occurrence for loved ones of addicts to face an uphill battle just to get their addicted loved one the help he or she so desperately needs. In these circumstances, a common resource is the use of an intervention with the help of an addiction treatment professional. There are several models of interventions, ranging from confrontational to invitational to persuade an addict to accept help.
Depending on the individual, his or her relationship with loved ones, and the specific goals of the family, one method of intervention may be more effective than another.
If you, or someone you love is addicted to drugs, or has a problem with drug abuse, please don’t wait to get help. Drug addiction is progressive, and will not get better until such time that help is received. At addiction-resource.com, we understand that drug addiction is scary and dangerous for the addict and his or her loved ones to endure. Please call us now to speak with one of our trained counselors. We will talk with you about your situation, concerns, and recovery goals. Depending on individual needs, preferences, and spiritual beliefs, we will help you to find the most effective addiction treatment program to ensure the best chances at sustained recovery from addiction.
Drug addiction has claimed lives for several decades, and it doesn’t have to claim another. There is help available in throughout the country, and it is available on multiple levels of intensity, and offers a wide range of methodologies, therapies, and spiritual paths. Recovery is only one phone call away, so please call us now and let us help you find the addiction treatment that is right for you, or your addicted loved one.