signs of addiction

Signs Of Addiction: How To Spot Addiction in Friends and Family

signs of addiction

According to Medical News Today, addiction is defined as the inability to stop taking/doing something otherwise harmful, causing physical or psychological harm.

According to the American Society of Addiction, addiction is also defined as a chronic, treatable medical condition involving complex interactions between genetics, brain circuits, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences.

It ranges from drug abuse to everyday activities like smoking,  playing video games, sex, and overeating, categorized as non-substance abuse. It can just be anything that can cause dependence and withdrawal symptoms when stopped.

Symptoms of Addiction

The major ones reflect a structural and functional impairment which includes:

  • Poor performance at the workplace.
  • Lack of energy
  • A noticeable lack of energy in activities of daily living.
  • A compulsive desire to engage in that addictive behaviour despite being aware of the effect it possesses.
  • Withdrawal symptoms might range from physical or psychological effects resulting from the aftermath of trying to stop that suddenly.
  • Weight loss
  • Hygiene problems or self-abandonment
Addiction symptoms
  • Being defensive about it when asked.
  • Relationship difficulties.
  • Failure to perform well in school, work, and other functions
  • Lack of focus/distracting thoughts about how the said activity.
  • Other signs and symptoms of addiction (especially as it relates to substance abuse).
  • Sudden change in behavior/personality, including agitation and irritability.
  • Slurred speech, bloody eyes, tremors, including frequent nose bleeds.
  • Changes in daily habits, and the kind of friends they go out with.
  •  Financial problems; the unusual need for money to spend on maintaining that lifestyle.
  • Continual use of a drug even after it’s no longer needed for treatment.
  • The need for more of a substance to get the same desired effects, that is increased tolerance, and the need to take more before you feel an effect.
  • Feels strange when the drug wears off. You may be shaky, depressed, sick to your stomach, sweat, or have headaches. You may also be tired or not hungry. You could even be confused, have seizures, or run a fever in severe cases.
  • Inability to stop the drug even if you want to.
  • Continual use of it despite causing problems in life, school, work, and relationships.
  • You are spending a significant part of your time, money, and efforts on how to get the drugs. You can even go as far as borrowing or stealing money to get the drugs.
  • You find it difficult to set a limit or control yourself from taking the drug.
  • Lost interest in activities you once found pleasurable.
  • Rationalizing the reasons for taking the substances.
  • Trouble doing your normal daily routines like self-care, cooking, driving, etc.
  • You engage in dangerous acts when on the drug.
  • You need to hide the drug or the effect from other people.
  • The need to sleep more than before or less than usual Or the need to eat more or less than usual.
  •  Engaging in doctor shopping i.e going to more than one doctor to get a prescription.
  • Searching other people’s things for the drug.
  • Use of prescribed medicine with the drug in question.

Note that addiction has effects that can be physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual.

Addiction Treatment options

  1. Behavioural therapy and counselling
  2. Pharmacological treatment; use of drugs
  3. Use of medical devices
  4. Support from home/family, organizations/hotlines; Knowing that you are not alone and getting to interact with people who experience similar ordeals can be very helpful. You can share coping mechanisms and helpful tips, and since they can understand you the best, a community of such can be a great source of strength and part of your journey.

Risk factors for addiction

Family history: According to research, a person’s gene has the potential to contribute to a 50% chance of inheriting a certain addictive behaviour.

Environment: This is most times the case for most people. During the treatment phase, this is also explored and designed to lessen the impact on the individual.

Peer group influence: This can even be categorized under environmental influence. Most teenagers get into drugs, alcohol, video games because their friends introduced them to them. In a world where everyone is trying to fit into societal expectations and pressure, this is often the case, especially for adolescents who are just getting to explore all these.

The mode of administration of the addictive substance: Smoking-related substances have a high potential for addiction because the brain can process the effect within seconds and the effect can fade away instantly. It also produces a euphoria state and so the person is naturally tempted to crave that feeling again.

Stress: High-stress levels can also make people turn to these substances as a coping mechanism to relieve stress or anxiety. This is especially true for alcohol-related substances, as they can forget their worries in a drunk state.

The type of substance itself: Substances like heroin, marijuana, nicotine has some particular trigger receptors that can further stimulate addictive responses.

Metabolism:  Different substances have different rates at which they are broken down. This can mean that those that are easily and quickly broken down will demand the users to have more tolerance ability for more doses. This means that the previous dose will not be able to acquire the feeling or effects, thereby predisposing the client to get more of that substances.

Some people engage in addictive behaviours to explore, especially as it relates to adolescents.

Others might take it because it makes them feel extremely good about themselves, increase their self-esteem, makes them happier, and solves their immediate problems, not minding the consequences.

Some sets of people like sportsmen also take this to enhance their performance.

Other alternative options.

Self-awareness is the first stage to get into when trying to change a habit or solve a problem. Knowing that you are getting addicted and acknowledging that, not only to yourself but to others, especially people who can help you is crucial. Design your environment in a way that makes it less likely to get that substance or engage in that behaviour. Make it out of sight, and consequently, it will be out of mind. Have a strong reason as to why you need to stop, write it down if you can, and constantly remind yourself of it whenever the intrusive thoughts keep coming. Then see your doctor for other options if this does not work for you.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy: (REBT) could help you recognize your negative thoughts that lead to them and then offers a way to tackle that. It uses the power of rational thinking, and you have the ability to initiate that, putting you in control and not becoming a victim of situations or circumstances.

Use of positive reinforcement; This is another great method to change a habit. It means the use of rewards to get desired behaviour change.

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