People from all walks of life can experience problems with their drug use, regardless of age, race, background, or the reason they started using drugs in the first place. Some people experiment with recreational drugs out of curiosity, to have a good time, because friends are doing it, or to ease problems such as stress, anxiety, or depression. However, it’s not just illegal drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, that can lead to abuse and addiction. Prescription medications such as painkillers, sleeping pills, and tranquilizers can cause similar problems. Addiction to opioid painkillers can be so powerful it has become the major risk factor for heroin abuse.
When Drug becomes an Addiction?
Drug abuse is when you use legal or illegal substances in ways you shouldn’t. You might take more than the regular dose of pills or use someone else’s prescription. You may abuse drugs to feel good, ease stress, or avoid reality. But usually, you’re able to change your unhealthy habits or stop using altogether. Addiction is when you can’t stop. Not when it puts your health in danger. Not when it causes financial, emotional, and other problems for you or your loved ones. That urge to get and use drugs can fill up every minute of the day, even if you want to quit. Addiction also is different from physical dependence or tolerance. In cases of physical dependence, withdrawal symptoms happen when you suddenly stop a substance. Tolerance happens when a dose of a substance becomes less effective over time. When you use opioids for pain for a long time, for example, you may develop tolerance and even physical dependence. This doesn’t mean you’re addicted.
Sign and Symptoms of Drug Addiction
Although different drugs have different physical effects, the symptoms of addiction are similar. If you recognize yourself in the following signs and symptoms, talk to someone about your drug use.
- You’ve built up a drug tolerance: You need to use more of the drug to experience the same effects you used to attain with smaller amounts.
- You use to avoid or relieve withdrawal symptoms: If you go too long without drugs, you experience symptoms such as nausea, restlessness, insomnia, depression, sweating, shaking, and anxiety.
- Loss of control over your drug use: You often do drugs or use more than you planned, even though you told yourself you wouldn’t. You may want to stop using, but you feel powerless.
- Your life revolves around drug use: You spend a lot of time using and thinking about drugs, figuring out how to get them, or recovering from the drug’s effects.
- You’ve abandoned activities: You used to enjoy such as hobbies, sports, and socializing, because of your drug use.
Warning Signs of Drug Abuse
In recent years, prescription drug abuse has become an escalating problem, most commonly involving opioid painkillers, anti-anxiety medications, sedatives, and stimulants. Many people start taking these drugs to cope with a specific medical problem—taking painkillers following injury or surgery, for example. However, over time, increased doses are needed to achieve the same level of pain relief and some users can become physically dependent, experiencing withdrawal symptoms if they try to quit. One of the earliest warning signs of a developing problem is going through the medication at a faster-than-expected rate. In other cases, people start abusing medication not prescribed to them to experience a high, relieve tension, increase alertness, or improve concentration.
Addiction is a complex problem that affects every aspect of your life. Overcoming addiction requires reaching out for support and making changes to the way you live, deal with problems, and relate to others. Recovery is within your reach but doesn’t try to go it alone; it’s very easy to get discouraged and rationalize “just one more.” Whether you choose to go to rehab, rely on self-help programs, get therapy, or take a self-directed treatment approach, support is essential.