Warning Signs of Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is a chronic condition characterized by the propensity to use and abuse substances classified as drugs, despite negative effects on lifestyle, health, and relationships. It is usually pretty easy to notice the signs of drug addiction in an individual that is abusing drugs.

Not All Addictive Drugs Are Illegal

Addictive drugs, however, are not necessarily illegal ones. Alcohol, nicotine, tobacco, marijuana, painkillers, and prescribed medications — in addition to various illegal substances — all fall under the classification of “drugs.” Because these substances change the structure and chemistry of the brain, drug addiction is considered a brain disease by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) categorizes drug addiction into two broad types of use: drug abuse and drug dependence.

Drug abuse is classified by the misuse of addictive substances. Some drug abusers, for example, might consume a Signs of Drug Addictionlarge amount of drugs within a short period of time, or consume a steady stream of drugs for long blocks of time (often called a “bender“). Others might consume drugs before operating cars or heavy machinery, turn to drugs to cope with stressful school or work situations, or use drugs outside of their recommended doses or prescribed time frame.

The DSM-IV criteria for signs of drug abuse include:

  • Missing work, school, or family obligations due to recurrent substance use.
  • Using drug substances in physically hazardous situations, such as driving a car, swimming, or operating heavy machinery.
  • Dealing with substance-related legal problems, such as getting a DUI, being charged with possession, or getting arrested for disorderly conduct.
  • Ruining relationships due to recurrent substance use.

The DSM-IV criteria for drug abuse only requires that a person have one of the symptoms listed above within a 12-month period to have a drug abuse problem.

Drug dependence, on the other hand, is a compulsion to use a drug despite its negative effects on a person’s life and relationships.

The DSM-IV criteria for diagnosing drug dependence include:

  • A need for more and more drugs in one sitting to achieve the same desired effect or “buzz” due to a higher tolerance.
  • Symptoms of withdrawal, or signs of drug addiction, such as shaking, nausea, anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia when the person stops consuming the substance.
  • Taking larger amounts of the drug over a longer period than prescribed.
  • Unsuccessful attempts to stop using the drug, despite a desire to quit.
  • A large percentage of time spent obtaining, using, and recovering from the drug.
  • A tendency to give up social, occupational, or recreational activities one used to love in order to consume the substance.
  • Continued use of the drug despite the physical or psychological effects it has on one’s health and lifestyle.

The DSM-IV criteria for drug dependence only requires that a person have three of the seven symptoms listed above occur within a 12-month period to have a drug dependency or drug addiction.

Because a consistent pattern of drug abuse can progress to drug dependence, the symptoms and warning signs of drug addiction and of both drug abuse and drug dependence should be addressed immediately before the problem worsens.

Sources On The Signs of Drug Addiction:

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