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Symptoms of Addiction

When we talk about symptoms of addiction, we usually mean addiction to drugs, alcohol, nicotine, or some similar substance. Although there are other forms of addiction, such as to food, computer games, or anything else that gives pleasure, it is the so called destructive addictions we're concerned with. Because they can be so harmful, we need to be able to recognize when someone is addicted to, or dependent on, any of these substances.


Young Addicts

At the heart of addiction is a craving for, seeking and then using the substance in question. The object of the addiction, in the first place, is something that gives pleasure, possibly changing mood or feelings. Over time, the body begins to tolerate a regular level of the substance and begins to need higher and higher doses to maintain the same level of pleasurable feeling. If the addicted person ceases taking the substance, or performing the activity, then painful or unpleasant withdrawal symptoms can occur.

So how do we recognize if someone is addicted? In the United States, one test of addiction or substance abuse is the occurrence of three or more of the following symptoms over a period of 12 months:

 

1. The person needs to increase the amount of substance to maintain the desired effect. This indicates that tolerance is in evidence. Alternatively, if the original amount continues to be taken, and the effect begins to decrease, that also indicates tolerance.

2. If the person abstains from the substance and notices unpleasant symptoms, then that is evidence of withdrawal. This is confirmed if taking the usual amount removes those symptoms.

3. Larger quantities of the substance are used for a longer time than was originally intended.

4. Symptoms of addiction are in evidence if the person continues wanting to reduce the substance use but is unable to successfully do so.

5. The person is prepared to go to a lot of trouble to get hold of the substance and can spend a lot of time getting over its effects.

6. Preoccupation with the substance takes precedence over work, social engagements and recreational activity.

7. Other problems caused by the substance do not lead to a reduction in its use, in spite of any pain or inconvenience caused to the user.

Tolerance of the substance does not necessarily accompany drug abuse, nor does withdrawal. If they are present however, what they show is a physical dependence on the drug. A person is said to be in denial if they believe that they could stop taking the substance any time they wanted to, without realizing that, in fact they could not. This loss of control is critical in determining whether a person is actually addicted or not.

Taken by themselves, the addiction symptoms outlined above do not necessarily indicate that the person is addicted. It is only in combination that the overall behavior pattern can be evaluated to determine if the symptoms point to an addiction. Before addiction can occur, the person must be exposed to the substance or activity which leads to their becoming addicted. They will not necessarily become addicted but without this exposure they certainly won't.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

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