Signs and Symptoms of a Drug Addiction

Do you have an addiction? The question shouldn’t be hard to answer. There are fairly clear lines between an addiction and a casual behavior. According to substance abuse expert Chris Prentiss, addiction is “the compulsive, physiological need for and use of a habit-forming substance. It is characterized by tolerance and well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal.”

Of course, people often say that their addiction really isn’t compulsive. They can stop anytime, they say. That’s why tolerance and withdrawal symptoms are so useful in identifying an addiction.

Tolerance. When you take a habit-forming substance regularly, your body eventually accommodates the substance. You don’t get the same feeling you originally got, or at least not the same strength of feeling. This does not mean that you are getting stronger and can handle the drug. Instead, your body is becoming dependent on the drug. Some people addicted to certain drugs may even die if they stop taking the drug suddenly.

Withdrawal symptoms. According to Prentiss, different addictions have different withdrawal symptoms. The list of possible withdrawal symptoms is very long, stretching from watery eyes to delirium and even death, depending on the substance, the length of the addiction, and the user.

In short, if you’re not sure if you’re addicted your best bet may be to ask yourself these two questions:

1.Do I get the same experience from the substance I got when I first started on it?
2.When I stop taking the substance on a regular basis, do I feel worse, emotionally or physically?
If you can answer yes to either of those questions, you may be addicted.

So, you’re addicted. Now what?

Abstention and Risk of Relapse

One of the biggest myths about addictions is that they’re easy to stop. Of course, we all are supposed to know that addiction is a disease. But deep down, even among addicts, lies the belief that you just have to stop taking the substance.

If it were only that simple. Every day, addicts everywhere decide to stop. That is, they abstain. But all but a few addicts who abstain will start using the substance again. Why is relapse so common?

Dependence. The physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms can be brutal. In some cases of addiction, simply abstaining from a substance suddenly, without medical supervision, may cause the individual serious harm, even death. Yet many addicts who abstain are able to get past the withdrawal symptoms – and still end up relapsing. Why?

Habit. Without realizing, you worked your addiction into the everyday rituals of life.

Underlying causes. According to Chris Prentiss, addictions usually have an underlying cause. There was a reason you took the substance in the first place. Simply abstaining from the substance does not make that underlying cause go away. Once you are done fighting withdrawal symptoms, you will be back fighting whatever problem led you to addiction in the first place. According to Prentiss, different people have different causes of their addictions. Finding the underlying cause of your addiction will be the most important step in ending it forever.

Ultimately, then, the hardest part of overcoming an addiction may not be stopping, but not starting again. To do that, you need to find and resolve the underlying problem of your addiction, and break old habits that sustained your addiction.

Residential Rehab: Do You Need It?

According to addiction expert Chris Prentiss, some people can get over an addiction without residential rehab. But given the challenges of overcoming an addiction, the support of a residential rehab program is invaluable. Have you tried to end your addiction without residential rehab? It might be what makes the difference this time.

Why Do So Many People Fail after Residential Rehab?
You’ve heard of all the people who went to residential rehab and then relapsed – even went and relapsed several times. But don’t let the fear of failure keep you from ever making the attempt. Here are some common causes of residential rehab failure, causes you can avoid.

Quality of the program. If your rehab program wasn’t great to begin with, you won’t be in good stead to avoid relapse. Before signing up, find out the recovery and relapse rates of past participants. Look for individualized programs, not just a cookie-cutter group program. Look for programs that use proven methods. Avoid programs that claim to get you out of addiction through evangelism or indoctrination in a new philosophy. Addiction is a disease; you can’t be talked out of it.

* Lack of aftercare services. When you leave residential rehab, the whole web of support that kept you out of addiction suddenly falls away. Only choose a residential rehab that provides aftercare support to make the transition easier.

* Need to change everything. Without realizing it, you wove your addiction into the fabric of your life. You need to pluck the threads of addiction out of your life, or reweave the fabric completely. If you can’t transform your everyday life, you will likely relapse.

Like most challenges, ending an addiction is not always achieved on the first try. But you can stack the odds in your favor with a good rehab program and a commitment to changing your life.

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