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When does drinking cross the line into addiction?
What is the difference between recreational use and compulsive use?
What do I do if I can’t stop using?
Many people ask these questions and more as they worry about whether their substance use has reached problematic levels. There is no one way that a person becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol. Ultimately, some individuals may try a drug and find that they can take it or leave it. Others may find “leaving it” much more difficult than they ever would have imagined.
Identifying an addiction is the first step to recovery. We’ve compiled information about diagnosing substance use disorders for your reference. Read on to learn who is the most vulnerable to addiction and how to tell if it’s time to ask for help.
Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disorder that affects people of all ages, classes, races, and backgrounds. It is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, in spite of adverse consequences. This condition involves functional changes to the brain circuits responsible for reward, stress, and self-control. By spending some time reflecting on your own substance use, you may successfully determine whether you have developed a chemical dependence on drugs or alcohol.
There are two distinct categories of addiction – compulsive use of substances and compulsive behaviors. At Beach House, we focus on substance addictions. These may include a dependence on…
- Prescription painkillers
- Opioids (oxycodone, Vicodin, hydrocodone)
- Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Ativan, Valium)
- Sedatives and hypnotics
- Stimulants (Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin)
- Crystal meth
- Hallucinogens (LSD, ecstasy)
Note: If you do not see a substance listed here, we encourage you to contact our offices for a more comprehensive consultation.
Risk Factors and Initial Signs
While no one is guaranteed to struggle with addiction, certain individuals are predisposed to escalating substance use. These vulnerable people include…
Those with a family history of addiction – People with a family history of alcoholism or drug abuse are at high risk for developing their own substance use disorder. Twin studies have proven that between 40 and 60 percent of the risk for developing alcohol use disorder can be attributed to genetic factors. The percentages for nicotine or cocaine addiction can reach as much as 60 to 80 percent genetic predisposition.
People who experiment with drugs in their teens – Those who begin trying different substances from a young age should also be concerned about their susceptibility to developing an addiction. Because the teenage brain is still maturing, it is particularly vulnerable to the mind-altering effects of drug and alcohol use. These substances rewire the brain’s reward system, which can have a lasting impact moving forward.
Individuals with a poor home environment – Teens who grow up in chaotic homes with little (or negative) parental supervision have an increased likelihood of substance use. Conversely, those with protective, constructive home environments may find themselves insulated from exposure to drugs and alcohol.
Those who have easy access to drugs and alcohol – Availability is a huge factor in the development of an addiction. For example, those who gain access to a parent’s supply of opioid medications will be at a greater risk than those whose parents safely store their prescriptions.
People with mental illnesses – Diagnosed or not, those with anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions may attempt to control their symptoms by turning to drugs or alcohol.
11 Signs That You Have an Addiction
Substance use disorders are diagnosed by a list of 11 criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, commonly referred to as the DSM-5. Read this checklist and make a note of which items apply to your situation.
- Do you take the substance in larger amounts or for a longer period of time than intended?
- Do you want to cut down on or stop using the substance, but you have been unable to?
- Do you spend a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from use of the substance?
- Do you experience cravings or urges to use the substance?
- Have you failed to meet obligations at home, work, or school because of your substance use?
- Do you continue to use, even when it causes problems in relationships?
- Have you abandoned social, recreational, or other activities because of your substance use?
- Do you use substances again and again, even when it puts you in some form of physical danger?
- Do you continue to use, even when you know that you have a health diagnosis that could be worsened by substance use?
- Have you noticed that you need increasing amounts of the substance in order to get the same effect – developing a tolerance?
- Have you experienced withdrawal symptoms, which can be alleviated by taking more of the substance?
Tally your results in order to ascertain the severity of your substance use. If you answered yes to two or three items, a clinician would consider you to have a mild substance use disorder. Four or five symptoms indicates a moderate substance use disorder, while answering yes to six or more symptoms to a severe substance use disorder. If you answered yes to any of the above items, you should consider contacting an accredited addiction treatment facility to pursue recovery as soon as possible.
The Consequences of Addiction
Addiction is a chronic, progressive disorder of the brain. This means that it will not be resolved on its own – in fact, it is practically guaranteed that an individual’s condition will worsen over time. Ongoing substance use is correlated with serious health risks and social consequences.
Health problems attributable to drugs and alcohol include heart or lung disease, seizures, collapsed veins, respiratory problems (emphysema, bronchitis, respiratory depression), cancer (of the mouth, neck, stomach, lungs, and more), gastrointestinal problems, infection from sharing needles (HIV, hepatitis), kidney and liver damage, aggravation of mental illnesses, and lasting neurological problems.
Socially, those suffering from addiction may perform poorly at school or work, possibly resulting in expulsion or termination of one’s employment. These individuals may experience financial trouble, resulting in the loss of parental rights or eviction from their homes. Legal consequences such as arrests are jail time are likely. The primary consequence of addiction is the degradation of relationships – friends and family members cannot always handle the deception or misbehavior that comes along with substance use.
Because the consequences of addiction are so incredibly severe, it is vital that those suffering from this condition seek help as soon as possible.
Ask for Help Today
The decision to seek help for addiction is not easy, but it is always the right choice. Entering treatment takes courage, and we’re here for you every step of the way.
At Beach House, we understand the complexities of addiction. Our experienced staff members craft individualized treatment plans for each client. Through a combination of beautiful beachside accommodations and evidence-based modalities, we help our clients through the most critical, challenging juncture in their lives.
To learn more about our Florida drug and alcohol rehab services, contact us today.