Understanding Drug & Alcohol Addiction

It’s important to understand drug and alcohol addiction and how it has an impact on the mental and physical health of each person. You may know someone who suffers from substance abuse or suspect that you’ve recently developed an addiction. There are many facets of addiction to learn and become educated about, which can make it easier to understand and navigate. Drug and alcohol addiction can affect children, adults, men, and women of all ages. It is often a way to cope with stress and pain and can even evolve into other forms of addiction.

Recognizing Addiction

Addiction can be easy to recognize due to various signs and symptoms that start to develop, especially if you’re familiar with someone’s typical behavior or character. There are many warning signs that are often linked to addiction, which includes a failure to commit or follow through with responsibilities, a change in the physical appearance, lapses in memory, a lack of motivation, isolation, and a change in sleep habits. Some signs are easy to spot, while other symptoms can be harder to detect, especially if the individual has learned how to function normally while they’re high or intoxicated. You may also notice:

  • Mood swings or a change in behavior
  • Difficulty at work or school
  • A lack of hygiene

The most common substances that people develop addictions to include alcohol, cocaine, nicotine, and heroin. Polydrug use can also occur when the individual becomes addicted to more than one substance. Many people use multiple drugs to experience greater effects as their tolerance for one substance gradually increases over time. They’ll do whatever is necessary to experience the effects of the drugs or alcohol.

Diagnosing Addiction

A medical professional can formally diagnose an addiction after evaluating the patient and looking for a few specific signs. There are certain criteria that the individual must meet to be diagnosed. The professional will look for a lack of control, which occurs when the patient uses more drugs or alcohol than they originally planned. They may have difficulty limiting their usage or controlling how much they use. The person may also have a desire to cut back or stop their usage completely. The patient may also spend a lot of time trying to obtain the substance, whether it means attempting to get new prescription medication from family members or friends or stealing to get money for more drugs. Cravings are one of the most common signs of addition with frequent urges to use more of the substance on a daily basis. Tolerance, withdrawal, worsening situations, dangerous use, and a loss of interest are also common among those suffering from addiction.

Substances’ Effect on the Brain

Using drugs or alcohol can have an effect on different parts of the body, especially the brain. The brain starts to release a lot of dopamine when the individual uses substances, which can feel relaxing and euphoric. It can be hard for the brain to continue to produce its own dopamine if it becomes dependent on drugs or alcohol, which can cause some people to rely on drugs to feel happy or relaxed. Some people may feel down or depressed when they’re not using.

Risk Factors of Addiction

There are many reasons why some people are more likely to develop addictions rather than other people. Several factors must be considered, which include your genes and biology. Ethnicity and even other mental disorders that are present can increase the risk of substance abuse. The environment is one of the main factors that cause some people to excessively use drugs and alcohol. Your economic status and the actions of your family members or friends can influence your decisions. Children who grow up in homes where addiction is present are at a higher risk of also suffering from addiction later on in life, especially to cope with their pain or trauma. The genetic development of some people can also determine if they’re more likely to suffer from addiction.

Taking drugs at an earlier age can cause addiction to occur. Teenagers are at a high risk of addiction because their brains aren’t fully developed, which affects their ability to make decisions and practice self-control. Kids who start to use drugs or alcohol can start to become riskier with their actions and behavior, putting themselves and other people at risk of danger or harm. If you’re ready to get started, our counselors are available 24 hours a day. Call us at 954-523-1167.