The number of people who have used drugs at one time or another during their lives is almost too big to count. Surveys of high school seniors reveal that most have experimented with at least one dangerous narcotic by the time they hit 18 years of age. For many adults, drugs never go much beyond just occasional use or experimentation. Some people however, are unable to stop using drugs – even if they possess a clear understanding of the damage it is causing themselves and the people they love. This last point is the most common sign that an individual has moved from mere “social” drug use into something much more serious: drug abuse.
Understanding the difference between drug use and abuse can help individuals and their families find the most effective form of treatment before the condition turns into a full-blown addiction.
When does Drug Use turn into Drug Abuse?
If you think that your drug use has become an actual drug abuse problem, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your work or school performance suffering because of your drug use?
- Do you no longer find once-favored hobbies or activities interesting or pleasurable?
- Have you ever stolen money from friends or family members to pay for drugs?
- Have you lied to your loved ones about your whereabouts because you were using drugs at the time?
- Are you continuing to use drugs often, despite an understanding of the harm it is causing your health and your relationships?
- Have you seen your personal relationships suffer as a result of your drug use?
- Have you had a run in with law enforcement or been imprisoned as a result of your drug use?
- Are you still using drugs, despite failing health?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may have what addiction treatment professionals clinically term as a substance abuse problem. If this is the case, it is absolutely vital that you contact a treatment center before your problem shifts from abuse to drug addiction.
How To Recognize Drug Addiction
Being physically dependent on any addictive drug is usually most obvious when you try to stop taking your drug of choice. Within hours of missing a dose, your body physically responds with withdrawal symptoms that start small and steadily increase until they are almost unbearable. These withdrawal symptoms will be different depending upon whether you are addicted to alcohol, cocaine, crystal meth, heroin, prescription drugs or a combination of drugs, but they are usually significant and difficult to endure without relapse.
Your behavior metamorphoses under the control of addictive drugs. You become completely focused on getting your drug of choice and staying loaded, drunk or high to the exclusion of all else. You may become moody or angry and depressed depending upon your drug of choice and when you last used. Short-term memory and the ability to maintain commitments become more difficult and your relationships, your job and your finances suffer as a result.
Addiction is defined by using a substance compulsively as well as the lack of control over the addiction or the inability to stop. When you are at the mercy of drug addiction, you no longer have the ability to control your behavior. Taking your drug of choice seems less like a decision and more of a compulsion. You may think of few things other than getting drugs and making sure that you keep a certain amount of your drug of choice in your system at all times. You may not have any concern about the danger that you put others in or the fact that you’re hurting those who love you. Your sole occupation is maintaining your addiction to the point that you let everything else go.
If you think you or someone you love is addicted to any drug, get help at a drug and alcohol treatment center today.