By Bunny Young, MA, QMPH
The word addiction is used in several ways. One definition describes physical addiction. The biological state in which the body adapts to a drug so that it no longer has the same effect (tolerance). Another instance of physical addiction is the phenomenon of overreaction by the brain to drugs (or triggers associated to the drug). A person struggling with alcoholism walks by a convenient store, for example, will feel an extra pull to have a drink because of these triggers.
In comparison to physical addiction, psychological addiction occurs when a person does not have a physical need for the drug, but rather a mental desire for it. For example, someone who is addicted to marijuana might think they need it to fall asleep quickly and peacefully. However, they will eventually fall asleep without the drug and without ever experiencing the physical effects of withdrawal.
Sometimes it is difficult to separate social drinking or occasional drug use, and a genuine addiction. Below are some of the indications or changes in behavior, which could indicate possible chemical dependence, or substance abuse in yourself or a loved one. If you find that you are experiencing personally or noticing 3 or more behaviors from the list below, please contact a licensed professional who specializes in addiction to support your questions, concerns, or path to recovery.
1. Needing more in order to achieve same effect (tolerance).
2. Engaging in high-risk behaviors such as stealing, lying, unprotected sex, etc.
3. Withdrawing from friends or family members that do not approve of the drug use.
4. Missing work or school.
5. Insufficient funds notices from bank.
6. Using until you are out. This could mean drinking an entire bottle or using an entire stash of drugs 7. Inability to stop. You have tried to quit and then relapsed. 8. Using as a coping skill rather than experiencing emotions: “To feel numb.”
9. Increase in anger or depression. For example, you have a short fuse.
10. Trouble in your relationship. Partners complain, “You are not acting like you anymore.”
11. Feeling sick without your drug. This can be an indication of dependence and withdrawal.
If you feel out of control with your substance use, perhaps it’s time to tell someone or talk with a licensed professional. To explore treatment options, please feel free to contact Life Cycles Counseling where individual, family, and group therapy/support options are available; there are resources for inpatient treatment options, and area contacts that work with Life Cycles Counseling to ensure a complete network for the best recovery options in the area.