It isn’t always easy to tell if someone has an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Though if you suspect that a loved one may be addicted, your suspicions should be taken seriously. If you are worried that you or a loved one might have an addiction, it is important to recognize the signs of addiction so that you know when to get help.
The current criteria for diagnosing an addiction, or a substance use disorder, comes from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). A person must have at least two of the following symptoms within the last year to have a substance use disorder:
- Not being able to reduce use: A person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol will oftentimes want to cut down or stop using. However, he or she will be unable to do so, in spite of a strong desire to quit. Drugs produce changes in the brain that make quitting hard — even for a person who desperately wants to stop.
- Taking more of the drug than intended: Taking more of the drug than intended is one sign of addiction. An example would be a person who has a legitimate prescription for opiate painkillers taking more of the drug than prescribed for him or her. Another example would be intending to drink just two glasses of wine but instead drinking the entire bottle.
- Failing to meet work, school or personal obligations: An individual who is addicted to drugs might fail to pay bills resulting in utilities being disconnected. Someone who has an alcohol use disorder might not show up to work because of a hangover. When a person fails to meet basic obligations because drugs or alcohol keep getting in the way, it is a sign that he or she is addicted.
- Continuing to use even when it causes serious problems in relationships: Has your husband or wife left you because of your drinking? Have your parents stopped talking to you after you stole money from them to pay for drugs? Addiction can instigate serious problems in relationships. It can cause your loved one to be more secretive or isolated. You might find it hard to trust your addicted spouse or partner.
- Using even though it makes health problems worse: Do you continue to drink even though you have diabetes and it causes your blood sugar levels to skyrocket? Maybe you have bipolar disorder and continue to use opiates in spite of the fact that it triggers manic episodes. A clear sign of addiction is continuing to use regardless of what it does to your mental or physical health.
- Giving up important social hobbies or activities to use: Have you stopped hanging out with friends to use? Maybe you no longer travel even though you love it because you would not be able to take drugs with you on the plane. When the drug takes precedence over everything else in your life — including those activities or people you love — this signals addiction.
The Benefits of Addiction Treatment
There is a myth that anyone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol can just stop if they want. However, that is not true. Drugs and alcohol change the way the brain works. Specialized addiction treatment is needed to quit.
Here are the benefits of addiction treatment:
- Safely stop using: It can be dangerous to quit using on your own due to withdrawal symptoms such as seizures and coma. >Medical detox treatment involves 24-hour medical management to help you safely stop using drugs.
- Build a support network: Social support is a vital aspect of achieving long-term sobriety. While in treatment, you will build a healthy social support network.
How to Get Help
If you or a loved one are addicted to drugs or alcohol, you might feel like your life is out of control. The good news is that addiction treatment can help you get your life back. The tools and resources that you need to stop using are available. Start the path to recovery now by making a call to get help.