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WHAT IS DRUG ADDICTION?

WHAT IS DRUG ADDICTION?

Drug addiction is both the physical and psychological dependence on a substance, which can be classified as alcohol, prescription medications, or illicit drugs. Drug addiction affects many people in the United States regardless of age, gender, or demographic.

Drug addiction is a nationwide health issue that affects millions of people every day. In 2015, 21.7 million people aged 12 or older needed substance use treatment in the past year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Yet, only 2.3 million people actually received it.

Most people don’t start off the bat snorting cocaine and shooting heroin, so while people struggling with addiction may be using illicit drugs, more people develop drug addictions via alcohol and prescription pills.
Alcohol lowers inhibitions, which can allow a person to experiment with stronger substances more willingly than when they’re sober. And Americans who start taking prescription opioid pills may develop a drug tolerance, which can become an addiction that leads them to transition to cheaper and stronger opioids, like heroin.

By 2020, mental health and substance use disorders will surpass all physical diseases as a major cause of disability worldwide, says SAMHSA.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DRUG ADDICTION

signs of drug addiction

As people develop a serious physical dependence to alcohol, prescription drugs, or illicit drugs, they will begin to show physical and mental symptoms of substance use.

Different drugs will react in different ways for each person, so it is also important to judge the severity of certain symptoms based on the person’s normal behavior. If you notice several symptoms listed below, it is important to seek substance abuse treatment.

Call our 24-hour helpline at (855) 619-8070, and one of our agents will answer any questions you may have. If you suspect a person may be going through a drug overdose, call 911 immediately.

  • Paranoia
  • Slurred speech
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Jitteriness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Mood swings, e.g. increased agitation and aggression
  • Problems concentrating or thinking
  • Memory problems
  • Depression
  • Lowered inhibitions or poor judgment
  • Increased energy, if using stimulants
  • Sluggishness
  • Noticeable weight changes
  • Sweaty, clammy skin or sores
  • Needle marks
  • Poor hygiene

Note that not everyone shows physical or mental symptoms of drug addiction while using, which can be a result of their high tolerance for their drug of choice. Another way to detect drug addiction can occur when the person is coming off the drug or has suddenly stopped taking the substance, thus triggering drug withdrawal.

To learn about specific drug withdrawals and their symptoms, visit our withdrawal pages.

LOOK FOR THE WARNING SIGNS OF DRUG ADDICTION

warning signs of drug addiction

While physical and mental symptoms are obvious signs of drug addiction, more people show behavioral symptoms of chronic substance abuse, which is why it is important for friends, loved ones, or coworkers to pay attention to any sudden strange behavior if they suspect drug use may be involved.

The fact is that many people struggling with drug abuse and addiction don’t fit the “junkie” stereotype that people see in television and films. Drug addiction can affect high school athletes, regular business workers, yoga instructors, elementary school teachers, grocery store clerks—anyone.

So if you notice more than a few of the following behavioral symptoms, alcohol and/or drug abuse may be involved:

  • Unexplained absences from work, school, or home
  • Suddenly missing deadlines or commitments
  • Acting withdrawn during social interactions
  • Being oddly secretive about what they do in their spare time
  • Changes in behavior and personality, appearing very out-of-character
  • Asking for money or appearing to have financial fluctuations
  • Supposedly hanging out with a new group of friends
  • Taking frequent breaks to go to the bathroom, outside, or away while socializing
  • Zoning out in conversation or having trouble staying on topic
  • Loss of desire to do things they loved, e.g. arts, sports, hobbies
  • Having problems at work, school, and home
  • Having trouble doing daily activities
  • Showing physical signs of addiction, e.g. weight loss, needle marks, etc.
  • Appealing to emotions of loved ones to get favors
  • Neglecting their appearance or hygiene
  • Engaging in dangerous behavior, e.g. driving under the influence
  • Stealing
WHAT KIND OF SUBSTANCES LEAD TO DRUG ADDICTION?

commonly abused drugs

Several substances can lead to drug addiction, especially if the person has also developed an alcohol addiction, which can lower a person’s inhibitions and increase their chances of trying new illicit drugs or substances not prescribed to them while under the influence.

The United States is currently going through an opioid painkiller epidemic, which has claimed more than half a million drug overdoses since 2000, according to the CDC. It’s also estimated that 91 Americans die from an opioid overdose, which includes prescription pills and heroin, every day.

Substances That Can Lead to Drug Addiction:

  • Alcohol
  • Prescription opioid painkillers, e.g. OxyContin, hydrocodone, Vicodin
  • Benzodiazepines, e.g. Xanax, Valium, Klonopin
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Crack-cocaine
  • MDMA, otherwise known as “ecstasy” and “molly”
  • Methamphetamine
  • Sleeping pills, e.g. Ambien and Lunesta
  • Prescription stimulant pills, e.g. Adderall and Ritalin
GET TREATMENT FOR DRUG ADDICTION NOW

drug addiction treatment

Treating drug addiction is not a matter of simply quitting substance use. When people develop a drug dependence, they’re subject to experiencing addiction withdrawal when they abruptly stop taking drugs, which can be a painful experience that may have hazardous effects on their health.

Drug Treatment Center Finder recommends enrolling in a drug addiction treatment center, where you will be medically supervised by trained professionals. Call our 24-hour helpline at (855) 619-8070 to discuss your treatment options with one of our agents and get the substance abuse treatment that’s right for you.

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