How Do I Know if I Have a Real Addiction?
Whether you are taking prescribed medications or are experimenting with recreational drugs, it is important to understand that both behaviors could lead to addiction. To learn more about understanding addiction, learn how addiction occurs, its physical, mental, emotional and behavioral signs and how to take prescription medication cautiously.
How Addiction Occurs
Since 1999, Helpguide.org has provided considerable information about a variety of issues, one of which is addiction. In its post, Drug Abuse and Addiction, they provide meaningful information about the slippery slope between drug abuse and addiction. For instance, they state that people experiment with drugs for any of the following reasons:
- To have a good time
- Because friends are doing it
- To improve athletic performance
- To ease a problem, such as stress, anxiety or depression
For whatever reason people experiment with drugs, their drug abuse may interfere with work, school, home or relationships. These problems indicate that drug abuse is heading toward addiction.
Regardless of the drug that you use or in what amounts, you are altering the way your brain functions. For example, many recreational drugs spike the levels of dopamine in your brain, which triggers intense feelings of pleasure. This alteration in the brain drives the brain to seek repeating that feeling. Unfortunately, these changes in your brain impact your ability to think clearly, exercise good judgment, control your behavior and feel normal without drugs. When these problems occur, you start to think that using the drug is paramount to everything else in life, including family, friends, career and even your own health and happiness. Through these processes, you start to lose control over your drug use, which means you begin to deny, justify and rationalize drug abuse.
Additional Signs of Addiction
If you think your drug use is becoming abusive, then you have probably already started hiding behind denial or rationalization. Refer to the Mayo Clinic post, Drug Addiction Symptoms, to see if you are experiencing any of the following signs of addiction:
- Feeling that you have to use the drug regularly — this can be daily or even several times a day
- Having intense urges for the drug
- Needing more of the drug to get the same effect
- Making certain that you maintain a supply of the drug
- Spending money on the drug, even though you cannot afford the extra expenses
- Not meeting obligations nor work responsibilities, or cutting back on social or recreational activities because of drug use
- Obtaining the drug in ways you would normally avoid, such as stealing
- Driving or doing other risky activities when you are under the influence of the drug
- Focusing more and more time and energy on getting and using the drug
- Failing in your attempts to stop using the drug
In addition, one of the more obvious symptoms of addiction is experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop taking the drug. You may experience intense cravings and actually feel physically ill.
Increasing Awareness of Prescribed Medications
Another way to understand whether you have a real addiction is to study your prescription medications, particularly those that are prescribed for chronic issues. In the post, Prescription Drugs, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence talks about the following prescriptions and the effects they have:
- Prescription pain relievers include opioids, which mimic the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals by attaching to receptors in the brain. These drugs can produce drowsiness, nausea, constipation and slow breathing, but they can also can induce euphoria by affecting the brain regions that mediate what people perceive as pleasure. However, opioids are highly addictive.
- Sedatives are central nervous system depressants prescribed for anxiety, panic attacks and sleep disorders. They slow normal brain function to produce a drowsy or calming effect, but they can lead to withdrawal and seizures when discontinued after prolonged use.
- Stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall and Dexedrine increase alertness, attention and energy, and they are often prescribed for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy and depression. However, they also are addictive.
Because many prescription drugs are both powerful and addictive, it is extremely important that you work closely with medical professionals to keep an eye on the substances you use. You want to be sure that you are not exhibiting any signs of abuse.
On the other hand, if you think you have an addiction, then you are probably right. The first step is to seek medical attention to review your medical history, as well as the signs and symptoms that are leading you to think you have an addiction. If you are seeking a more confidential source, then you can reach out to professional help to discuss the various treatment options that are available to you. It is important to be aggressive in seeking treatment so that you can resolve your drug issue sooner than later.
Learn to Determine if You Have a Real Addiction
If you want to know if you or a loved one has an addiction, then please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available right now to answer any questions you have about resources that can help you, so call now for instant support.