When you discover that a friend or family member has a problem with drugs or alcohol, it often comes as a huge surprise to you. But secrecy is the drug on which addiction thrives, so it’s not really that odd that you were in the dark. Addiction grows worse over a sustained period of time, and there are some indicators that may give you an idea something is wrong with your loved one before the bottom falls out.
A symptom is something the patient senses and describes, while a sign is something other people, such as the doctor notice. For example, sleepiness may be a symptom while dilated pupils may be a sign.
When a person is addicted to a substance, such as a drug, alcohol or nicotine, they are not able to control the use of that substance. They continue taking it, even though it may cause harm. When the body levels of that substance go below a certain level the patient has physical and mood-related symptoms.
There are cravings, bouts of moodiness, bad temper, poor focus, a feeling of being depressed and empty, frustration, anger, bitterness and resentment. Insomnia is a common symptom of withdrawal. In some cases the individual may have constipation or diarrhea. With some substances, withdrawal can trigger violence, trembling, seizures, hallucinations, and sweats.
Addiction continues despite health problem awareness. The individual continues taking the substance regularly, even though they have developed illnesses linked to it. For example, a smoker may continue smoking even after a lung or heart condition develops.
Social and/or recreational sacrifices – some activities are given up because of an addiction to something. For example, an alcoholic may turn down an invitation to go camping or spend a day out on a boat if no alcohol is available, a smoker may decide not to meet up with friends in a smoke-free pub or restaurant.
People who are addicted to a substance will always make sure they have a good supply of it, even if they do not have much money. Sacrifices may be made in the house budget to make sure the substance is as plentiful as possible.
Secrecy and solitude – in many cases the addict may take their substance alone, and even in secret.A significant number of people who are addicted to a substance are in denial. They are not aware (or refuse to acknowledge) that they have a problem.As the addiction progresses the individual may stop doing things he/she used to enjoy a lot. This may even be the case with smokers who find they cannot physically cope with taking part in their favorite sport.
Having problems with the law is a characteristic of some drug and alcohol addictions. This may be either because the substance impairs judgment and the individual takes risks they would not take if they were sober, or in order to get hold of the substance they break the law. Relationship problems are also more common in drug/alcohol addiction.
Some substance/alcohol abusers who are not technically addicted may also suffer from or cause some of the descriptions mentioned above, but they do not usually have the withdrawal symptoms of an addict or the same compulsion to consume the substance.
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