What is Addiction?
Addiction is a chronic medical disease where an individual compulsively uses substances despite the potential for harmful outcomes. The intensity of addiction increases over time, making it essential to recognize the signs of a potential problem as soon as possible. A person’s risk of developing an addiction increases based on their genetic makeup, physical health, trauma history, and life circumstances. Coping skills, social skills, and mental health also play a role in an individual’s chance to form an addiction to drugs and alcohol
What are the Signs of Addiction?
Early signs of addiction can look like being drawn to a substance or seeking out places where the substance is present. Addicts tend to surround themselves with people who will encourage their habits. They may also become defensive if someone mentions how they’ve noticed an uptick in visits to a bar after work or hanging out with a new social circle that favors the use of recreational drugs. Care and concern often lead to conversations that include excuses for continuing the harmful behavior, like “work has been stressful” or “I can quit at any time,” instead of acknowledging a problem and stopping.
Addiction can cause an individual to lose interest in hobbies, classes, or jobs they once enjoyed. Lying, secretive behavior and defensive reactions when questioned can damage relationships. Saying no to social or work obligations, decreased communication, and periods of isolation can highlight possible difficulties with substances. Disregarding risks, indifference to consequences, and problems with finances may also indicate the presence of an addiction. Dependence on substances can alter a person’s physical and mental health. Addiction can look like increased tolerance to drugs or alcohol. It canalso modify an individual’s appearance, as in noticeable weight loss or gain and changes to the look of eyes, hair, nails, skin, or teeth. Shifts in sleep or appetite may occur, as could change in memory or speech. Moods can range from manic to depressed states, including the possibility of a negative self-image, an uncaring attitude, lack of motivation, or paranoia.
How to Help Someone Struggling with Addiction
It may seem daunting to want to help someone struggling with addiction. It is important to remember that addiction is a disease, understand the individual’s situation in a non-judgemental way, and be ready to offer support. Do research beforehand to find options for reputable addiction treatment centers with supervised care plans and counseling opportunities. If an intervention is necessary, decide who can help you communicate to the individual the importance of getting treatment and what to do if they decline the idea. A visit may be necessary to discover or rule out any other medical reasons that may result in a dual diagnosis and impact treatment options.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol use disorder, JADE Wellness Center, Pittsburgh’s First comprehensive medicated assisted treatment center, can help. We provide a comprehensive variety of individualized, flexible drug and alcohol outpatient treatment options for adults, adolescents, and families struggling with chemical dependency issues at all stages of the addiction process. To learn more about our onsite and telehealth services, visit myjadewellness.com or call 412-380-0100.