Over the last few decades, drug abuse and addiction within the United States have been growing at an alarming rate. The increase in the rate of addiction for Americans has caused many health officials to become concerned, as roughly 9.5 percent of the population struggles with addiction.
However, it’s not always easy to tell if someone is addicted, especially if that person is a loved one. This is partly due to the fact that many people are unaware of the signs of addiction and partly due to the term being misused.
Continue reading to learn more about addiction and drug abuse, as well as how to tell who is a drug addict.
Definitions and Reasons for Addiction
Most medical organizations define addiction as a complex disease that involves the compulsive use of one or more substances despite serious health and social consequences.
Like many diseases, there can be many reasons addiction develops within an individual. Addiction is caused by a number of factors, including:
Of all the risk factors, genetics (biological) is arguably the biggest, as it can account for around 50% of the likelihood that an individual will develop a drug addiction.
Addiction can cause significant changes in the functioning of one’s mind and body. These conditions can be brought on by substance abuse, or they may already pre-exist and manifest when addiction occurs.
When it comes to mind, addiction can affect the regions responsible for reward, motivation, judgment, and more. This means that once addicted, a drug addict’s ability to make rational choices can become impaired.
Who Is a Drug Addict?
As stated above, determining who is a drug addict is not easy. Diagnosing addiction within an individual requires an assessment by a trained and certified medical professional.
However, there are certain signs that could signify that someone may be a drug addict. Addiction often results in behavioral changes within an individual that revolve around impaired control, such as:
- Excessive frequency of drug usage despite attempts to control the behavior
- Increased time spent using drugs or recovering from their effects
- Continued use of a substance in spite of persistent health and social problems
- Narrowed focus on the rewards linked to addiction
- Inability to take steps necessary to address addictive behavior and the problems it causes
People can become drug addicts for a variety of reasons. Typically, most addicts engage in addictive behavior to either achieve a state of euphoria or to relieve a state of dysphoria—distress, discomfort, anxiety, etc.
Regardless of the reasons, addiction often affects the chemical balance of the brain and can drive an individual to a pathological pursuit of rewards that are linked with addictive behavior.
Explanation of Drug Abuse
Some people are unaware of what causes drug abuse or what this even means. A good explanation of drug abuse is that this behavior is one of two things:
- Use of illicit drugs
- Use of prescribed or over-the-counter drugs for purposes other than their intended use
Note that drug abuse doesn’t only refer to the use of illicit drugs. Drug abuse and addiction can occur with seemingly harmless or even beneficial drugs, such as painkillers. Substances don’t have to be illegal to be addictive.
Regardless of the substance, drug abuse can be very dangerous as it not only can cause many physical issues within the abuser but also can play a role in many social problems, such as:
- Drugged driving
- Child abuse
Each year, drug abuse harms millions of Americans, destroying meaningful relationships and personal lives. However, there are effective treatments that can help reverse the changes brought on by addiction and drug abuse.
If you or a loved one are struggling from the effects of addiction and/or drug abuse, know that there is hope. Contact Steps Recovery Centers today. Our staff is available 24/7 to help you get the treatment that you need.