This commonly asked question can be answered in a straightforward manner, but it is the issues surrounding addiction that are far more complex.
What is addiction?
It is a point where a person who uses drugs or drinks alcohol cannot stop even if they have a desire to do so. The cravings and urge to keep using is far too strong for them to control even though they know the substance concerned is causing them harm.
There is no blueprint for addiction:
One thing is for certain, when someone tries an illegal substance or drinks alcohol they are not expecting to become addicted. The majority do so because they are curious, and keen to experience the effects that so many will have told them about.
The problem with these substances is that they have an extremely strong pulling power. They are moreish and the more a person has the more they want.
What starts as a once a week bit of fun with friends turns into 2 or 3 times a week and then it becomes an expected everyday occurrence.
Not everyone is caught in this spiral of increased use, this makes it very difficult for those who can take or leave substance use to understand why others cannot simply leave it alone.
Something that must be understood is that these substances can change the way the brain works. Many who use drugs or alcohol begin to need them simply to feel normal. Those affected in this way can quickly find that dependence takes over their lives.
Is your dependence deepening?
Here are 6 factors that show a dependence is deepening:
- Tolerance: Are you finding alcohol or drug use is increasing over time? Is more required to achieve the same feelings as previously experienced?
- Lack of control: Do you find there are times when you take more of the substance in question than was your initial intention or more than you wanted to? Do you sometimes drink simply to get drunk? Does the first drink regularly lead to more? Is there ever regret regarding how much of the substance you used the previous day?
- Continued use despite negative consequences: Even though you are aware of the harm this is causing yourself and those around you, you continue to use.
- Neglected duties: Expected duties around the home or social obligations are either forgotten or purposely ignored. If so, this is because substance use is more important.
- Increasing time spent: Increased amounts of time and energy are being put into buying and using your substance of choice and thoughts of it are either constantly on your mind or just below the surface?
- Withdrawal: If you try to forego the substance do physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms take hold? This can range from sweating and shaking to increased anxiety and irritability. The significance of emotional withdrawal is on par with physical withdrawal symptoms.
Deepening dependence will not disappear on its own:
Anyone who feels their substance abuse is getting the better of them needs to seek professional help. Many who are addicted have strong feelings and actions of denial. The sooner this denial is ended and professional help sought, the sooner a solution can be found to help.