When Does Substance Use Become an Addiction?

When Does Substance Use Become an Addiction?

Addiction has become a common word in our lexicon, and it’s one that’s used to describe everything — from heavy use of social media to eating too unhealthy food. But what exactly does addiction mean? And when do bad habits turn into addictions? It’s not always easy to tell if you or someone you know has an addiction. But there are several signs of an addiction that you can look out for and learn from to help prevent it from becoming a full-blown problem in the future.

Addiction to drugs or alcohol isn’t something that just happens overnight. It often takes months or even years before someone will admit they have a problem, and even longer before they decide to take the steps necessary to fight back against the addiction and start on the road to recovery.

This guide will help you determine when addiction occurs, what the warning signs are and when intervention from friends and family members may be necessary to fight back against the addictive behavior and take control of your life again.

What is Addiction?

Addiction and drug use can be tricky to discern, especially when you’re young. You may feel anxious or nervous when you think about being sober, but that doesn’t mean you have an addiction. If you feel like your use of drugs and alcohol causes problems in your life, like stress with friends or difficulty at work, it could be worth consulting with a professional—your doctor or someone in your community who specializes in helping people overcome substance abuse.

Recognizing the Signs of Addiction 

It can be difficult to tell if you have a problem, but some signs and symptoms are common across addictions. If you see these in yourself or someone else, it may be time to start looking for professional help. For example, no matter how many times people around you implore you to stop drinking or smoking or taking drugs, your behavior never changes. If your loved ones have told you repeatedly that your substance use has changed your personality for the worse, listen to them.

Abusing prescription medications

Prescription medication abuse happens when someone uses a prescription drug without or in ways not intended by a physician. For example, some people mix painkillers with alcohol or take stimulants to study for exams. Both of these can be extremely dangerous, especially if it becomes habitual. This type of behavior should be reported to authorities as soon as possible, and individuals struggling with prescription-drug abuse may require treatment. Such treatment will usually consist of detox followed by behavioral therapy.

Risk Factors

Although not everyone who uses addictive substances will become addicted, it’s essential to understand which factors can increase your chances of developing an addiction. Risk factors for drug and alcohol addiction include: 

  • Being male or younger 
  • Being exposed to substance abuse at an early age 
  • Having family members with addictions 
  • Experiencing stress or trauma 
  • Having psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety, or PTSD

Recovering from it

According to National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, over 31.9 million people in America struggle with substance abuse. If you are one of these people and are trying to quit or stay clean, here are some tips for staying sober when it gets tough.

Contact friends or family before your withdrawal starts. They can help you prepare if they know what to expect and help keep you accountable during your recovery period. Enlist in a self-help group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). These groups offer great support that has been proven to help people stay sober for longer periods. While there are many other types of self-help groups available, these have stood as examples because of their long track records of helping people recover from drug use problems.

There are also drug abuse treatment centers available all over. If you’re having trouble staying clean or have already relapsed, talk to your doctor about your options. They can help you find a recovery center in your area and refer you if necessary. There are even holistic options that will be able to help reduce cravings for your substance of choice.  

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is becoming popular because it helps people who suffer from severe addictions without causing them to suffer painful withdrawals. It also reduces overdose deaths by removing substances that have caused many accidental deaths due to overdosing on things like heroin.

When chemical use reaches these points, it’s not just a bad habit anymore. Addiction has taken hold, and unless we take action, it’s going to continue—and get worse. But recovery doesn’t have to mean an end to socializing or an abrupt lifestyle change. By getting educated on chemical use and its effects and working closely with trained professionals, anyone can break free from addiction. 

Meta title: How Addiction Becomes More Than Just a Bad Habit
meta desc: Read to learn about some signs of addiction and how you can treat it early, preventing it from developing into something more serious, such as alcoholism and drug abuse.

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